While mothers often take maternity leave, the practice of fathers taking time off work during this exciting time in Connecticut is on the rise. Before the child is born, look into your work’s current rules on paternity leave. If they have nothing in place, the Family and Medical Leave Act may help you take that time.

Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Act allows qualified employees the opportunity to take unpaid leave for up to 16 weeks in any given 24-month period. In order to qualify, you must have worked for a company of 75 or more people at least 1,000 hours for the year before taking leave.

Differences in state and federal law start with differences in leave. The federal FMLA works off a 12-month period allowing 12 weeks of unpaid leave for you which is less time per leave but more opportunity to take it. The employer coverage starts at 50 employee businesses vs CT’s 75. All public-sector employees have coverage under federal FMLA. The federal FMLA requires at least 1,250 work hours which is more than CT’s 1,000.

The Labor Department handles complaints against FMLA violations. Keep in mind that your employer may request you use your paid time off whether vacation, sick or personal to cover your leave. Not all employers require the use of PTO. The employer does not have to pay you during your leave if they normally would not.

You can take FMLA time as paternity leave or should a loved one or you fall seriously ill. Whether adopting or having a baby, you can enjoy some time bonding with the child.