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FMLA benefits for new parents

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, qualifying employees can use to up to 12 months of unpaid leave to cope with certain health or family situations.

According to the United States Department of Labor, many of the conditions that qualify employees for FMLA leave are serious medical conditions affecting either an employee or an employee’s family member. However, employees can also take FMLA leave when adding a new child to the family.

When can new parents take FMLA leave?

It is very important for parents to bond with a newborn baby. New parents can therefore use FMLA leave for this purpose following the baby’s birth. Both mothers and fathers are eligible to use FMLA leave. New parents can also use FMLA leave for purposes of bonding following the adoption of a child of any age or the placement of a foster child in the employee’s household.

Can expectant parents use FMLA leave prior to the baby’s birth?

Many complications can occur during pregnancy that can result in serious medical conditions. A pregnant employee can take FMLA leave for pregnancy-related incapacity or for prenatal care. An employee whose spouse or partner is pregnant can use FMLA leave to care for a partner with a pregnancy-related incapacity or a serious medical condition related to childbirth.

Are there limitations on using FMLA leave for the birth or placement of a child?

An otherwise qualifying parent who intends to use FMLA leave to bond with a new child must do so within 12 months of the child’s birth or placement.

It is up to the employer to decide whether an employee taking FMLA leave for the birth or placement of a child can use it intermittently or has to take it all at once.

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