Practice Areas

How to Craft a Non-Discriminatory Paternity Leave Policy

Historically, many employers provided paid maternity leave to mothers, while providing little to no leave to fathers. While employers may provide leave that is tied to childbirth to birth mothers only, nowadays, employers must provide post-childbirth leave for bonding and childcare purposes to both male and females on an equal basis. Failure to do so would constitute discrimination. Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind when drafting a parental or paternity leave policy:

  • Where an employer provides employees with post-childbirth leave for bonding and childcare purposes, that same leave benefit must also be extended to parents who adopt or foster a child.
  • Disability-related / childbirth benefits may be provided to birth mothers only.  However, all other non-disability benefits (such as leave to care or bond with a new child) should be provided to mothers and fathers on an equal basis, regardless of whether the parent is a biological, an adoptive or a foster parent.
  • Some employers provide a greater amount of leave for “primary caretakers” and a lesser amount of leave for “secondary caretakers.”  This is acceptable, so long as the employer does not make a presumption that one category of parent (i.e., mothers) is presumed to be the primary caregiver.