This Father’s Day, it’s as important as ever for working dads and all caregivers to understand their rights to balance work and care under local, state and federal protections. Knowledge is power: read on below, and give the dads and caregivers in your life the gift of valuable information on how to exercise their rights in the workplace.
1. A Growing Number of U.S. states guarantee paid family leave.
Access to paid time off work to care for children and loved ones is crucial for working dads – beyond ensuring that working fathers can take time to be there for their families in times of need without sacrificing their economic security, it also dismantles harmful gendered stereotypes about caregiving when men exercise their rights to paid leave, by showing that men can be caregivers and breadwinners.
Workers in seven states–California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington State – and Washington, D.C. have the right to take paid family leave to bond with a new child or care for a seriously ill loved one, while programs are currently being implemented in Colorado and Oregon. In just the past few months, we have seen significant progress, with Maryland and Delaware becoming the newest states passing paid family and medical leave.
These programs are making a huge difference. For example: in New York, where we fought to pass a strong paid family leave law in 2016, new research has shown the beneficial impact this lifeline policy has had on infant health.
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 children – 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 Workplace Rights Hub and select your state to learn more about your rights under state and local laws.
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 workers nationwide.
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.
A few states and many localities currently offer explicit protection for caregivers under their employment discrimination laws, including Alaska, Connecticut, Minnesota, Delaware, New York, and Washington, D.C.
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. Click here for a full list of state and local family status and caregiver discrimination protections.
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 certain relatives or bond with a new child. Unfortunately, in order 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 employer 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. Consult our Workplace Rights Hub for more information about additional state and local protections.
One important note: 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, in some circumstances, you may also be able to use it intermittently (in separate blocks of time) or on a reduced work schedule; for example, to help an older relative get to hospital visits.
5. As we fight for a federal right to flexible and predictable work hours, some states and localities have fair workweek laws in place already.
As parents know, it can be difficult or impossible to find reliable, high quality childcare on such short notice, and unpredictable work hours can further complicate balancing work with arranging care. Luckily, several states and cities have passed laws allowing workers to access fair, predictable, and flexible schedules.
We are continuing to fight for federal policies that give workers greater control over their schedules, such as the Schedules That Work Act and the Flexibility for Working Families Act.
As we continue to work to advance the rights of working fathers, and all parents and caregivers nationwide, we hope you will ensure that the dads in your life are equipped to understand and exercise their rights at work. Happy Father’s Day from A Better Balance!
Note: This blog post does not constitute legal advice, and might not address all circumstances. For more information about your rights, contact our free and confidential legal helpline at 1-833-NEED-ABB.