Paternity Leave

Paternity Leave in California for 2024 A Primer for New Dads

Just by chance, if you’re about to become a new dad in California in 2024, you’re probably wrestling with the complexities of paternity leave. It’s essential to know your rights, understand the factors that determine your eligibility, and get a handle on the financial implications.

But where do you start? Well, that’s where we step in. This primer will equip you with the crucial information you need, and by the end of it, you’ll be able to navigate the system like a pro.

Now, let’s get you up to speed.

Length of Paternity Leave in California

In California, both the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grant you up to 12 weeks of paternity leave. It’s important to note that CFRA leave is unpaid, and the total leave time can’t exceed 12 work weeks if you’re eligible for both.

That’s a quarter of your year, dedicated to bonding with your newborn or newly adopted child. CFRA generally offers broader protections than FMLA, so it’s crucial to understand the difference.

Eligibility for Paternity Leave

While understanding the length of your paternity leave is vital, it’s equally important to know if you’re eligible for such benefits in the first place. In California, there are a few key points to consider:

  1. Your employer must have at least five employees for you to be covered under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
  2. You must have worked for your employer for over a year and completed 1,250 hours of work within the 12 months prior to your leave.
  3. Part-time employees may not qualify, as eligibility is determined by CFRA guidelines.
  4. All leave must be taken within one year of your new child’s arrival.

Scheduling Your Paternity Leave

Mapping out your paternity leave is a crucial step, giving you the opportunity to spend precious time with your newborn while also ensuring your job’s security. You’ve got up to 12 weeks under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and FMLA, but remember, this doesn’t have to be taken all at once.

Be strategic, splitting your leave into blocks to maximize your time at home. Check with your employer, as they may require leave in two-week blocks. All leave must be taken within the first year of birth. Make sure you provide reasonable notice before taking paternity leave.

If you’re eligible, consider California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program, offering up to eight weeks of paid leave. Your job’s safe, but always stay informed about your rights.

Understanding Paid Leave Options

Having established your paternity leave schedule, let’s now explore the various options you have for paid leave in California.

  1. California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program: This offers up to eight weeks of paid leave. The average PFL benefit in 2024 was $878 per week. Check your eligibility with California’s Employment Development Department (EDD).
  2. Vacation Pay: Some employers allow the use of accrued vacation days for paternity leave.
  3. Sick Pay: You may also be able to use your accumulated sick days for paid leave.
  4. Accrued Paid Time Off: Many employers offer Paid Time Off (PTO) which can be used during your paternity leave.

Job Protection and Legal Rights

As you navigate through the complexities of paternity leave, it’s crucial to understand your job protection rights and the legal safeguards in place for you.

Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you have the right to return to the same or a comparable job after taking paternity leave. This job protection is a significant aspect of these laws.

If you’re a federal employee, you’re entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave. Remember, it’s essential to provide reasonable notice to your employer before taking your leave.

If you believe your rights have been violated, you can report these violations to California’s Civil Rights Department. Knowing your legal rights is crucial in ensuring a smooth transition into fatherhood.


In summary, understanding your paternity leave rights in California for 2024 is crucial.

You’re likely entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave, with the possibility of paid leave under the PFL Program.

Eligibility hinges on your employer’s size, your tenure, and hours worked in the last year.

You have the flexibility in scheduling your leave and your job is protected by law.

Don’t miss out on this important time with your newborn.

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