Parental Leave: Frequently Asked Questions

Parental Leave: Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, “at least one parent was employed in 89.1 percent of families with children, up from 88.5 percent in 2020 but below its 2019 value of 91.4 percent.” The number of parents who are part of the workforce has resulted in an increase.

What is parental leave?

When an employee uses preapproved hours to take time off from work for family-related reasons, such as birth, adoption or other child-related reasons, their absence from work is known as parental leave.

How does parental leave relate to family and medical leave?

You may be familiar with family and medical leaves of absence, but where does parental leave fit into the mix? Essentially, parental leave is typically offered as part of a larger family and medical leave policy. Think of parental leave as a subcategory of family and medical leave policies.

For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act provides new parents with unpaid yet job-protected leave, among other factors. Certain states in the U.S. have their own family and medical leave laws, and under said laws, parental leave, as well as other types of family leave, is legally mandated.

A few states as well as the local governments within them have laws dictating stand-alone parental leave requirements. Sometimes, parental leave is paid, while in other situations, it is unpaid. Ultimately, whether it is paid or unpaid comes down to the jurisdiction in question.

What is the difference between maternity leave, paternity leave, pregnancy disability leave and parental leave?

Maternity leave is a type of leave that employers offer to women who are going to give birth or adopt a child in the near future. Similarly, paternity leave is granted to fathers who either need to take care of their kids or bond with their newborn child. Pregnancy disability leave is a form of leave that is extended to women who are disabled as a result of either pregnancy or childbirth.

Unlike the three aforementioned types of leave, each of which is either offered to new mothers or new fathers, parental leave is designed for both mothers and fathers, not one or the other.

Which states require paid parental leave?

The following five states require employers to provide eligible employees with paid parental leave:

  • California.
  • New Jersey.
  • New York.
  • Rhode Island.
  • Washington.

Additionally, Washington, D.C., has enacted its own set of paid parental leave laws, as have numerous local governments across the country. It’s important to also keep in mind that you, as an employer, might have to offer parental leave to your employees as dictated by either the FMLA on a federal level or the family and medical leave program on a state level. Also, state rules could change over time, so make it a point to check the current laws in the state where you operate your business.

Does parental leave apply to same-sex couples?

In terms of parental leave for same-sex couples, the federal FMLA includes both opposite-sex and same-sex parents in its requirements for parental leave. However, on a state level, laws vary from one state to the other, so your state’s laws will indicate whether parental leave pertains to both opposite-sex and same-sex parents or only opposite-sex parents.

What does a parental leave policy include?

A parental leave policy will usually address the following details:

  • The purpose of the policy.
  • The conditions of the policy.
  • Eligibility requirements for employees.
    • Length of service.
    • Work hours.
    • Full-time versus part-time employment.
    • The definition of an eligible parent.
  • Length of parental leave.
  • Duration of parental leave.
  • The outcome upon quitting or being fired if parental leave has not been used.
  • How parental leave is managed in regard to other leave policies.
    • Paid time off.
    • Short-term disability.
    • Federal FMLA mandates.

The process for requesting, approving and denying parental leave should be included in the official policy as well. If you are in need of assistance with the drafting of your parental leave policy, turn to the experts who can inform you about the best approach.

Original content by © IndustryNewsletters. All Rights Reserved. This information is provided with the understanding that Payroll Partners is not rendering legal, human resources, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from a lawyer, HR consultant or other professional.