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Can Georgia employers deny paternity leave?

On Behalf of | Sep 18, 2023 | Family & Medical Leave Act (fmla)

Paternity leave, the time off granted to fathers after the birth or adoption of a child, is an important time for bonding with your new child and supporting your partner during this life-changing period.

Many fathers may wonder if employers in Georgia can deny their paternity leave request. The good news is that there are some protections in place at both the state and federal levels.

Georgia’s paid parental leave

In July of 2021, Georgia’s Paid Parental Leave, also known as PPL, took effect. This allows employees who have worked for at least 700 hours in the previous six months to take up to a maximum of 120 hours of paid leave for a rolling 12-month period.

AP News reported that just one month after the PPL took effect, more than 450 employees used over 13,440 hours of paid leave.

As long as employees meet the minimum qualifications and have a qualifying event of birth, adoption or foster care placement, employers should not be able to deny this type of paid leave request.

Employer discretion in Georgia

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, applies to certain employers and provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for different family-related reasons, including the birth or adoption of a child. Under FMLA, employees have the right to job protection during their leave, ensuring they can return to their position or an equivalent one.

While FMLA provides job protection during paternity leave, this does not guarantee a paycheck during the leave. In addition, not every employee may qualify for FMLA. It applies only to businesses with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. Employees must also have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous year and have been employed for at least 12 months.

Company policies

Beyond federal regulations, company-specific policies play a significant role in determining whether to grant paternity leave. Employers may choose to offer paid or unpaid paternity leave as part of their employee benefits package. The company’s employee handbook or policies typically outline the terms and conditions of such leave.

Fathers may have access to job-protected leave under both the federal FMLA and Georgia’s PPL, provided they meet eligibility criteria and work for a qualifying employer. The ability to deny paternity leave ultimately depends on the specific circumstances, employer size and company policies. Recourse options are available if your employer denied you parental leave when you qualified for it in the state of Georgia,