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FMLA guarantees maternity leave for dads, too

The Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, guarantees workers in all states the right to up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave for the birth of a child. State law can provide Florida workers with additional protections. FMLA leave is often focused on new mothers, but new dads are also allowed to take time off to care for a spouse who is incapacitated due to birth or pregnancy.

Both spouses may take advantage of FMLA leave when there is a pregnancy or birth in the family. To be eligible, workers must be employed by a local or state government agency or employed by a company with at least 50 employees in the private sector. Public or private school employees are also eligible regardless of the number of employees. Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least one year.

The United States is one of the few developed nations that does not offer mandated paid maternity leave. According to one survey, only 14 percent of workers had access to paid family leave in 2016. Most of the jobs that offer paid maternity leave also require a high level of education.

If an employer does not allow an employee to take maternity leave or terminates the employee for taking any other type of medical leave, that employer may be in violation of the FMLA provisions. Violations can also include pressuring the employee to return to work sooner than the employee planned or not returning the employee to his or her previous position after the leave time is over.

A person who has questions about their rights under the FMLA may wish to consult an attorney. An attorney may be able to help clients negotiate with their employers when they are facing an emergency situation due to an FMLA violation. Other legal remedies might include filing an administrative complaint with the Department of Labor or filing a lawsuit.

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