Under the New Parent Leave Act (Parental Leave), employers with 20 or more employees must provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a new child.
Compliance with this new law is essential. You will be liable if you fail to provide an eligible employee with Parental Leave, fail to guarantee the employee the right to return to the same or comparable position at the end of Parental Leave, or take any adverse action against an employee for taking Parental Leave or for exercising his/her rights under the law.
Who’s Eligible for Parental Leave?
The New Parent Leave Act applies to:
- Any person who directly employs 20 or more persons to perform services for a wage or salary; and
- The state and any political or civil subdivision of the state and cities, regardless of the number of employees.
To be eligible for Parental Leave, an employee must:
- Have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months;
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave; and
- Work at a worksite that has at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Duration and Timing of Leave
Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of Parental Leave to bond with their new child. The leave must be taken within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement.
The 12 weeks of Parental Leave is in addition to the up to four months of Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) available to a pregnant parent. An employee eligible for PDL and Parental Leave can take up to four months of protected leave when disabled by pregnancy and then an additional three months of Parental Leave.
If both parents work for you and both are eligible for Parental Leave, you must allow both to take Parental Leave. However, you are not required to provide more than 12 weeks total for both employees. You may allow the employees to take the leave simultaneously, but are not required to do so.
Employer Notice Requirement
The New Parent Leave Act requires that employers provide employees with a guarantee of reinstatement before an employee begins his/her Parental Leave. If you fail to provide this guarantee of reinstatement before the employee’s leave begins, you will be treated as if you refused to allow the employee to take Parental Leave and can be held liable for a violation of the law.
Employers should ensure that all employees taking Parental Leave are provided a guarantee that the employee will be reinstated to the same or comparable position at the conclusion of the employee’s Parental Leave. The guarantee should be in put in the handbook or an additional policy that all employees are aware of.
Returning to Work After Leave
When an employee returns from Parental Leave, you must reinstate the employee to the same or comparable position. If you need to terminate an employee on Parental Leave or have concerns about reinstatement, seek legal counsel.