5 Things You Need to Know About Paternity Leave


While browsing through a parenting magazine the other day, I came across a really interesting article about dads taking paternity leave. Apparently in Sweden, it’s considered taboo for dads NOT to take paternity leave.

And although I consider myself an equal partner with my husband and he is in all ways an involved, “hands-on” father, I can honestly say that I never considered that he could take paternity leave. The most time off he ever took following the birth of any of our three children was a day and a half.

So you can imagine my surprise when I did a little research this morning and saw, right there on the U.S. Department of Labor website that fathers have full protection and right by law to take up to a 12-week paternity leave under the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA): 

(Q) When can a parent take leave for a newborn?

Mothers and fathers have the same right to take FMLA leave to bond with a newborn child. A mother can also take FMLA leave for prenatal care, incapacity related to pregnancy, and for her own serious health condition following the birth of a child. A father can also use FMLA leave to care for his spouse who is incapacitated due to pregnancy or child birth.

Say what?

If you are as shocked as I was, but still intrigued by the thought that your man might be eligible for paternity leave, click through for some more details on the truth about paternity leave. 

Image via Flickr/J & J Brusie Photography



Is your man eligible for paternity leave?

Ok, first things first. Although the U.S. Department of Labor and FMLA dictate a fully protected 12-week leave for new parents, the law also stipulates that the employee be eligible. What does that mean? In a nutshell, he has to work for an organization that offers FMLA, have worked there for at least 12 months, and have worked at least 1,250 hours.

What kind of organizations offer FMLA?


According to the FMLA website, “all public agencies, including local, State, and Federal employers, and local education agencies (schools) and private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year” are eligible.

Image via Flickr/ spigoo



Will he get paid?

Ay, and there’s the rub – FMLA only offers protection for unpaid leave; your man can certainly use vacation or PTO (paid time off) days that he has accrued, but unless his place of employment actually offers paid paternity leave, he’s on his own.

Image via Flickr/ nateOne



Do companies really offer paternity leave?

Yes! Yahoo and Bank of America are just a few of the several companies that are starting to offer paid paternity leave.

Image via Flickr/ spigoo



Is there a stereotype for dads taking paternity leave?


Unfortunately, yes. My husband was a new teacher when I had my kids. There is no way in heck that I could have convinced him to take even a week of work off, let alone 12, when we had a new baby in the house. The Wall Street Journal reports that men who are active caregivers really do get teased and insulted more at work than non-involved fathers and workers without children. 

In Sweden, do dads have to take paternity leave?

Yup, they honestly do. The government in Sweden is so adamant that fathers should take paternity leave that they mandated that fathers have to take at least two months of paternity leave sometime before their child reaches the age of eight in order to receive governmental benefits. The government agrees to pay 85 percent of one parent’s salary for 13 months in order to free him or her up for 24/7 bonding. Talk about a win-win situation.

Image via Flickr/ Lil_Zebra



What are the benefits of paternity leave?

A study by Human Impact reports that paternity leave results in improved physical and mental health for moms, parental bonding, long-term development of a child’s brain, social skills, well-being, and physical health. 

Paternity leave = the future?

I really do believe that eventually, paternity leave – that’s longer than a day and half – will be a real option for fathers. In the meantime, you may just have to work a little harder to convince your man to be on the cutting edge of the latest trend.

Image via Flickr/ rocketjim

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What do you think?

5 Things You Need to Know About Paternity Leave

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. laura says:

    My husband is taking the first week off with me (if this little guy ever gets out). His company allows him to take 12 weeks off, but it’s unpaid. He worked out a floating week of vacation time with his boss, that will be paid. Thank goodness!!! This our first, and I know I’ll need him!

  2. We couldn’t afford FMLA. He was still working only 25-30 hours a week after a serious work related injury and I was the main breadwinner at the time. I used a few weeks vacation time and sick leave to cover us. We ended up draining our savings just on insurance payments.

    I went back to work fulltime (50+hrs) after the OB/GYN cleared me, and he would work whenever I was home (20 hrs). So really, he was the stay-at-home dad for a while there.

    I had to stop working when my son was 10 months.. job changed management and they were not willing to work with the schedule we had going between our two jobs. So he went back to work fulltime (50+hrs), since his injury was finally healed, and I became stay-at-home.

    I like to think our son had best of both worlds, although it was really hard for me to be gone so much from my newborn. I’m glad to be home with him now.. at first I tried to find a parttime job, but noone wants to hire someone with a very specific schedule. After a few months I gave up searching.

  3. Matt says:

    My wife is going to be a surrogate mother. She will be taking 12 weeks of leave after giving birth (already approved by her company). Am I entitled to FMLA leave even though it’s not “our” child? Leave to care for my wife who has just given birth?

  4. pregnantmama says:

    My husband was threaten to get fired if he didnt show up to work the week I gave birth. Those A-holes in that company totally violated his FMLA rights. This company has more than 50 employers.

  5. Beatrice says:

    Excellent discussion, I don’t see a lot of resources on paternity leave. Thank you!

  6. Amy says:

    My husband just returned to work this week after taking 5 weeks off for our baby’s birth. I had a c-section so he technically could have taken 12 weeks but he didn’t have the time saved up for it. By taking FMLA he had to use his sick leave, which fortunately he had quite a bit of. He also took some AL (annual leave). I would have liked for him to have taken more than 5 weeks but I am recovering wonderfully and I want for him to have time on the books for other uses. It is a great thing if your employer offers it and if you have enough time saved up for it. I wish it were offered to everyone as a paid benefit, because it is a great thing.

    • Amy says:

      And I have to disagree about the stereotype about father’s who take paternity leave. It really depends on the people you work with. My husband has taken paternity leave twice now and neither time has he been ridiculed or teased. He is lucky enough to work with other good hearted family men who believe that family comes first. And when he did run across the occasional joker he was confident enough in himself to just ignore it.

  7. Angela says:

    It’s so sad that people don’t know this! I can’t believe it “never occurred” to the author! You’re bringing a new life into your home and IMHO it’s a shame for the father NOT to take time off work to spend with the baby! I understand if it’s a major financial burden to take that time off, my husband wasn’t able to take off as long when our second child was born for that reason… and maybe it’s not for everyone, I’m not going to judge someone who would prefer to work rather than spend time with a new baby… I might argue my point til I’m blue in the face but I wouldn’t judge them… but the real issue is people should be able to make the decision, to know they have the option of staying home… it’s something that should at least be common knowledge, I thought it was!

  8. ProudMomma says:

    Wow this is soo crazy . . . I am very impressed . . . I would never get my husband to do this though

  9. Rebecca says:

    My husband works for a very small company. They have 6 employees, so they don’t have to offer it – My husband used one week of his vacation time after our daughter was born (7 weeks ago) and that was amazing. He had bonding time that he never would have had because she is exclusively breastfed and always clusterfed at night. Also I had an unexpected c-section, so it helped to have someone available to be with me 24/7 to help with the baby. He was informed last week that the week will not be counted against his vacation time and given back the full week. It was worth the week of vacation time, but I’m so happy that he has a good employer. 🙂

  10. My husband will be taking 5 weeks off for paternity leave following baby’s birth. I believe his agency allows him to take up to 6 weeks anytime within baby’s first year (after that it’s unpaid FMLA leave), so he’ll have one additional week he could take if he wanted to at a later time. I’m SO thankful he will be at home to help me out and have some quality time to bond with our new little family!

  11. Jennifer says:

    I think that Sweden has the right idea. It is so hard for families to afford to take the time off that thier children need. I had disability insurance with my first which was supposed to cover maternity leave but they only covered 8 weeks and my employer (a school) said that I only “got” 8 weeks and was not eligible for FMLA since I only worked during the school year even though I was paid year round. I ended up with 10 because I had a severe iron deficiency and my doctor recommended it but it was a fight.

  12. Cecilia says:

    Its really good that this is offered to the fathers as well. My bf is taking 4 weeks off as soon as our little one is born =)

  13. Cecilia says:

    Its really good that this is offered to the fathers as well. My bf is taking $ weeks off as soon as our little one is born =)

  14. Monica says:

    This Is All New To Me…

  15. Martinjl says:

    Wonderful to know! We will definitely have to look into this as the time gets closer!!

  16. collinsA2 says:

    I’m excited about the idea that my husband would be able to spend time taking care of me and the baby and not have to worry about job protection!

  17. cherieanna says:

    My husband has always been allowed and expected to take 10 days paternity leave through the military after having our children


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