New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy started off the 2014 season as the subject of controversy by missing the first two games to be with his wife and newborn son in Florida. When Murphy’s absence was noted by various sports media personalities, it touched off a firestorm of discussion over the rights and responsibilities of parents and employers surrounding time off for childbirth.
Major League Baseball permits up to three days of paternity leave, so Murphy was entirely within his rights as an employee. While this may seem like barely any time at all, particularly when compared to the 12 weeks of maternity leave available to many new mothers, the state of New York, and indeed the United States, does not have a law on the books mandating either paid or unpaid paternity leave. In some ways, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, as maternity leave isn’t mandated, either.
However, the good news is that any leave offered by an employer to new mothers must also be offered to new fathers. The same is true of any payment associated with that leave: it must be offered equally to women and men. The only catch is that any leave offered to new fathers must be for childcare and caring for the home. Leave for childbirth, and for medical conditions or incapacitation due to pregnancy, are only available to females.
Family and Medical Leave Act
Male as well as female employees are also entitled to request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act. This allows for job protection as well as the continued maintenance of employer-provided health benefits. FMLA does have certain requirements for eligibility, mostly related to your employer itself as well as your duration of employment in your current job.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for new fathers to misunderstand their rights, or feel they’ve been misled or even deliberately deprived of their right to request paternity leave. If you believe your request for paternity leave has been unfairly denied or improperly handled, contact a New York City employment law attorney with the Derek Smith Law Group for information and support.
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