Just in time for Father's Day, here's what every dad should know about his rights - or lack thereof - in the workplace. If you're still struggling to find that perfect gift, forget the necktie and send dad this list - something he can actually use at work.
1. Men need parental leave but unfortunately, only four US states guarantee it. Today, men are taking on more childcare duties and caregiving for ill relatives, with tremendous implications, as outlined in the State of the America's Fathers Report, for children's health and wellbeing as well as for gender equity in the home and women's equality more broadly. Unfortunately, for many fathers, especially low-income dads, taking leave that isn't paid isn't financially possible.
Following in the footsteps of the entire rest of the world, a handful of states, including California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and most recently New York, are finally starting to offer paid parental leave to male and female employees. San Francisco also just passed a law requiring certain employers to make up the difference between the state-required paid family leave benefit and a parent's full salary while they are caring for a new child.
New York's paid family leave law, which passed earlier this year, is the most generous in the nation. Starting in 2018, parents working in New York will be able to take up to 8 weeks of paid leave when welcoming a new baby. By 2021, both moms and dads will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid leave. This means that in two-parent households, both parents can use bonding leave to care for a newborn, adopted, or foster child, and a new baby could receive exclusive parental care for the first 24 weeks of her life! Parents and others taking advantage of the benefits will be eligible for up to 67% of their average weekly wage while on leave, capped at the statewide average.
2. You may have the right to take sick days for you and your kids. Increasing numbers of states and cities allow you to earn paid sick time to care for you and your kids - or other family members - when they get sick. Other laws say that if your employer provides sick time, they have to let you use it when your children are ill. Check out our Babygate webpage to see if you're covered.
We've pushed hard for these laws to be adopted in many areas--find out more about our campaigns to bring paid sick days to more workers and to promote "Kin Care" laws, which allow you to use paid sick time to care for an ill family member.
3. Men, not just women, are protected from discrimination at work. Federal law prohibits employers from basing decisions on stereotypes about dads being breadwinners as opposed to caregivers, and treating men unfairly based on gender roles. This is a form of sex discrimination that can be extremely harmful but also hard to isolate. Thankfully, progressive states and cities are passing gender-neutral laws making it clear to employers that punishing parents just because they are parents is not okay. New York and Minnesota recently adopted stronger antidiscrimination protections for parents, and New York City's new law covers workers caring for other family members as well.
At ABB, we're working to expand these protections further to make sure parents and caregivers aren't punished at work for the responsibilities they have at home. Find out if you are protected in your state or city here.
4. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides a safety net for some. For many workers, the Family and Medical Leave Act provides 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave that can be used to care for a relative or bond with a new child. Unfortunately, it may not apply to you, since to qualify you must work for an employer with more than 50 employees, have worked with them for at least a year, and have logged more than 1,250 hours for that company in the previous year. In fact, 40% of American workers are ineligible under the FMLA. On the bright side, some states have more generous leave laws that may cover you even if the federal law doesn't. Be sure to check out Babygate to see if your state offers any greater protections.
Don't forget one more thing: Many people know you can use your 12 unpaid weeks of job protected leave all at once, for example to care for and bond with a newborn. However, you can also use it intermittently (a day here or there); for example, to help an older relative get to hospital visits.
5. You don't have a right to flexible or predictable work hours--yet. More than 45 percent of part-time workers, and close to 40 percent of full-time workers are only given one week or less advance notice for their schedules. As dads know, it can be difficult or impossible to find reliable, high quality childcare on such short notice.
ABB is working to change this by supporting laws and policies that give workers greater control over their schedules.
This is post is written to assist dads in understanding some of their workplace protections. It does not cover all aspects of these laws or all available workplace protections. It is always advisable to consult with an attorney about your individual circumstances if you have questions or think your rights as a worker have been violated.