The folks at the California Public Agency Labor and Employment blog yesterday raised an issue that has popped up from time to time with our own clients: When it comes to “baby bonding” leave, does the Family and Medical Leave Act provide more generous benefits for unmarried parents than it does for married parents? In short, the answer is Yes.
Under the FMLA, where both husband and wife work for the same employer, they are entitled to a combined 12 weeks of bonding leave per FMLA year. (See 29 CFR 825.120(a)(3)) So, what if mom and dad both work for the same employer but are not married? In what can only be described as a loophole in the FMLA, the unmarried parents do not have to split the 12 weeks — each may take up to 12 weeks of bonding leave.
As the California L&E blog points out, this contrasts with state FMLA laws (like the California Family Rights Act) where bonding leave is limited to a combined 12 weeks for the parents, regardless of whether they are married or not. Perhaps an intended result, but one employers must be mindful of when administering FMLA leave.