Paternity leave is a non-specified period of time when a new father is given leave from work to adjust to the birth of a child.
Depending on the country's rules and specific business policies, paternity leave may be structured in different ways. For example, it may be paid or unpaid for a period of weeks or months.
What is paternity leave?
Paternity leave is a type of leave whereby new dads are given time off work to welcome a new baby into the home and adjust to childcare needs. It applies to a child of natural birth as well as an adopted child.
The paternity leave policy of a business will stipulate the structure of the leave program, and it may be guided by state requirements. As an approved absence from work, paternity leave may be paid, unpaid, or only offer a portion of the normal wage.
Paternity leave offers many different benefits for new fathers and the rest of the family. Consider the following employee benefits of paternity leave:
- Mothers can continue to work and remain in the workforce
- Recovery is quicker for mothers with a partner at home
- New fathers can bond with their new child
- Babies receive additional care after birth.
When offering paternity leave, it’s important to streamline time-off requests with the rest of the team using a helpful PTO plugin tool, such as Roots.
Who is eligible for paternity leave?
Paternity describes a father’s role, and biological fathers are typically eligible for paternity leave. In certain countries and within certain organizations, paternity leave may also be available for adoptive fathers (including foster care to adopt).
Unless the state demands that a business offer paternity leave, the decision is the organization’s responsibility. Businesses may choose to offer paternity leave under certain conditions. Eligibility requirements are guided by the following considerations:
- The amount of time that the employee has worked for the employer
- Employee’s financial contributions to specific state funds such as healthcare
- The number of employees in the company
- An appropriate notice period of the requested leave
- Proof of pregnancy or adoption
Sometimes, a business strives to meet a middle ground with expecting fathers. For example, an employer may offer an opportunity to work from home part-time to share parental responsibility and bond with their family.
Paternity leave vs. other types of leave
Employers offer different types of leave for new parents, depending on the traditional role that they play in the household. While these parental leave policies are constantly evolving, there are a few differences.
Paternity leave vs. maternity leave
Maternity leave describes a permitted absence from work when a woman is about to give birth, has just given birth, and shortly after birth. Maternity leave is also eligible during the adoption of a child.
Maternity leave (both paid and unpaid time off) is more common than paternity leave, as mothers are typically expected to breastfeed, recover from the birthing process, and obtain postpartum care.
Paternity leave vs. paternal leave
Parental leave differs from paternity leave as the benefit is available for either parent, while paternity leave is specifically for a father. Paternal leave policies are usually more progressive and inclusive, even if they don’t offer paid parental leave.
Progressive employers may offer parental leave instead of paternity leave as part of a gender-neutral family leave policy. The leave benefit may also apply to same-sex couples, trans people, and others who are excluded from statutory regulations. In the instance of same-sex partnerships, parental leave refers to leave for the non-birthing parent or secondary caregiver.
Is paternity leave required by law?
There is no global legal requirement for paternity leave. Even states within America have different policies regarding paternity leave. In the United States, the most direct federal law about paternity leave is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
The FMLA demands that a full-time employee working in an organization with more than 50 employees receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a new child or family member. As FMLA leave is unpaid leave, many fathers prefer to work and provide income to support their families. Federal employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for both mothers and fathers.
Currently, 11 states offer paid paternity leave, including California, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Oregon.
In another example, individuals in the United Kingdom are eligible for one or two weeks of paid paternity, during which time employment rights are protected. However, leave laws don’t require payment to be full wage.
When hiring from a global talent pool, it’s important to compare employment data to make the most informed decision.
Is paternity leave paid?
Unless legal requirements demand that paternity leave is paid, then it is up to the employer to determine whether or not paternity leave is paid or unpaid.
In many countries, such as the UK and Spain, offering paid paternity leave is a legal requirement, even if the payment is a stipend allowance.
How much is paid on paternity leave?
The amount of pay an employee receives while on paternity leave differs depending on local laws and company policy. In most instances, paternity leave pay is calculated as a percentage of the employee’s previous salary. Alternatively, it can be paid as a lump sum.
For example, the UK calculates paternity pay at 90% of an employee’s average weekly earnings but limits this earning to £151.97 per week. In Spain and Turkey, employees are entitled to full pay while on paternity leave.
Responsibility for paternity pay
The entity responsible for paying paternity leave wages depends on local law and company policy. Sometimes, the government makes the payment based on social security revenue. In other instances, the employer makes payment directly. Sometimes, payment is a combined effort of both government and employer.
Offering paternity pay to employees serves as an appealing benefit. If you’re considering paternity pay as part of your benefits package, then use Deel’s nifty Benefits Tool to explore the benefits offered by countries worldwide, giving you a competitive edge while remaining compliant.