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Are Colorado employers familiar with paternity leave?

When Colorado employees hear that a male co-worker is expecting a new family member because of his wife's pregnancy, there are usually congratulations and handshakes all around. Eventually, the conversation may turn to what types of arrangement the couple is making to care for the newborn, especially in terms of maternity leave for the mother. However, it usually doesn't occur to many people that a male employee himself may also be planning to take time off to care for the newborn.

This was the topic of a recent article, which pointed out for employers and employees alike that if an employer doesn't allow a male employee to take time off to care for a newborn through the protections of the Family Medical Leave Act, just like they would a female employee, they may be facing charges of employment discrimination. It is becoming increasingly common for new fathers to want to take "paternity leave" right after a new baby is born so that they too can be a part of the bonding process with the newborn.

Employers usually don't question a pregnant woman's desire to take leave to care for a newborn. Employers, for the most part, are supportive of the female employee during that pivotal time in life, and simply want to know when they can expect the employee to return to work. However, an employer may not have the same supportive reaction if a male employee makes the same type of request.

Any male employee in Colorado who is expecting a newborn and who is contemplating taking leave under the FMLA will want to know their rights - especially because their employer might not. Taking care of a family responsibility should not be grounds for employment discrimination.

Source: Business Management, "Don't unwittingly discriminate against dads," Feb. 13, 2014

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