From the Hotline: Paternal and Maternal Bonding Under FMLA

Question: Are there any differences in paternal and maternal baby bonding requirements under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

Answer: Both parents are entitled to Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for the birth or placement of a child for up to 12 workweeks. As such:

  • Both parents are entitled to FMLA leave to be with a new child (i.e., bonding time) during the 12-month period beginning on the date of birth or date of placement.
  • The mother is also entitled to FMLA leave for incapacity due to pregnancy, for prenatal care, or for her own serious health condition following the birth of the child.
  • The husband (or father) is entitled to FMLA leave if needed to care for his pregnant spouse who is incapacitated or if needed to care for her during her prenatal care, or if needed to care for the spouse following the birth of a child if the spouse has a serious health condition.
  • Both the mother and father are entitled to FMLA leave if needed to care for a child with a serious health condition.

Spouse means a husband or wife as defined or recognized under state law for purposes of marriage in the state where the employee resides, including common law marriage in states where it is recognized.