Texas Paternity Leave: What Is Required of Employers and What Isn’t?

Having a child, especially your first, is an exciting time but also one that presents seemingly endless questions and challenges. One of the most common concerns for all new parents is how to juggle their careers with the new responsibilities of being a parent to a newborn child. Inevitably, parents will have to figure out who will stay home with the baby, for how long, and what impact this will have on the family’s finances.

Over the past few decades, the traditional fixed gender roles of parents have progressed. This welcome change has recognized both a mother’s valuable role outside the home as a breadwinner, as well as a father’s role at home with the children. Along with this shift, lawmakers are beginning to address a father’s need or desire to stay home with his newborn baby and also to take care of the mother .

Texas, unfortunately, is somewhat behind the curve as it pertains to paid paternity leave. In fact, only a few states currently offer paid paternity leave. Of course, this does not stop an employer from offering paid paternity leave on their own. And if an employer chooses to make paid paternity leave available for some employees, it must be provided in a non-discriminate manner without regard to an employee’s age, race, or religion. Unpaid paternity leave is a different matter and is available to many Texas fathers under the federal government’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Under FMLA, an eligible employee’s job will be protected for up to 12 weeks if they are employed by an eligible employer. Also, the employer must make the employee’s health insurance benefits available during the period of leave. Notably, FMLA leave can also be taken by a husband during his wife’s pregnancy, although this time will count towards the 12-week total.

Eligible employers are defined as public or private employers with at least 50 employees. To qualify for FMLA benefits, including unpaid paternity leave, an employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past twelve months and must have been with the company for at least one year.

As with paid paternity leave, even if an employer does not qualify as an eligible employer, they may still choose to make these benefits available to employees. Similarly, if an eligible employer promises an ineligible employee FMLA benefits but later reneges on that promise, the employer may be required to provide the benefits under the doctrine of equitable estoppel.

Are You Dealing with an FMLA Issue at Work?

If you have recently unsuccessfully requested to take time under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or have already taken time under FMLA and are encountering a problem at work, contact the attorneys Rob Wiley, P.C. To learn more about how we can help you with your case, call 214-528-6500 to schedule a consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Can a Texas Employer Require Employees to Pool Tips?, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, October 25, 2018.

Responsibilities of Texas Employers under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, November 2, 2018.

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