As always, laws differ from state to state. In Ohio, small businesses would not legally be required to provide paid, or unpaid paternity leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only applies to companies with more than 50 employees, meaning its protection doesn't cover employees of small businesses. Small businesses can decide to offer paternity leave that is paid, unpaid, or a combination. They may also allow employees to use other paid time off like sick, personal, or vacation leave for paternity leave. For small businesses, how much parental leave and pay employees are granted are determined by the employer. Small businesses should consider their goals and resources while forming their paternity leave policy.
Within the policy, the terms and conditions of the leave should be clearly stated. Such terms and conditions should include the eligibility requirements for leave, the length of the period of leave, pay and benefits during the period of leave, and the process of requesting and beginning to leave. All employees should be made aware of company policies like parental leave. This communication can be done in many ways, like distributing an employee handbook, having individual meetings with employees, or posting notices in visible places for employees to read.
The cost of paternity leave for small businesses depends on several factors, such as the duration of the leave, whether it is paid or unpaid, as well as the employee's salary and benefits. To offer paid paternity leave, the cost is equal to the employee's regular pay during the period of leave, and partially paid leave is a portion of the employee's regular pay during the leave. Unpaid leave may cost just as much as paid leave for small businesses if a temporary replacement of the employee on leave is necessary. Employers should budget for the cost of paid leave and assess its impact on work productivity. Also, it is important for small businesses to acknowledge and balance the needs of their employees along with the needs of the business.
As maternity leave is parental leave for mothers, paternity leave is parental leave for fathers. Paternal leave is when an employee takes time off work for the birth or placement of their child. Parental leave may be paid or unpaid.
Ohio's parental leave laws don't include any state-mandated income replacement benefits. Employees should consult their handbook in search of their employer's paid time off policy.
Here is a list of the income replacement benefits that exist in Ohio:
In Ohio, short-term disability insurance is a way for new parents to receive up to 66% income replacement benefits. It is important to note this is only available for employees who are mothers giving birth to their children. Also, the mother must also enroll before the child's conception because private policies do not cover pre-existing pregnancies. Female federal employees, however, may enroll after the birth of a child under FEPLA. The maternity leave pay through short-term disability insurance is available for mothers who are not physically able to perform regular work duties. For example, a pregnancy disability before birth due to medical complications, recovering from labor and delivery of childbirth, and postpartum health issues delaying their return to work (excluding depression). Since this all has to do with pregnancy, short-term disability is not available to cover paternity leave for fathers.
It is very unlikely to receive unemployment compensation during maternity or paternity leave because of the eligibility requirements. Mothers must not be able to physically work, be available, or seek new employment. Fathers must not be available to work nor seek new employment. Filing for an unemployment claim after a forced leave of absence is possible if the termination or voluntary quit of the lost job was for a "just cause" and the parent is physically able and available to work.
Ohio law determines whether voluntary quit is for a "just cause" if the action taken was one that would be taken by an ordinarily prudent person under similar circumstances.
State government employees will receive parental leave under Section 124.126, paid for through taxpayers. Adopting parents may opt for a $2000 payment to cover adoption expenses instead of the wage benefits. There is an unpaid waiting period of 14 days, during which an employee may use their sick, vacation, personal and compensatory benefits. The wage benefit includes four weeks of 70% base-rate pay and may not exceed 40 hours per week. Mothers who are on pregnancy disability are exempt from completing another 14-day wait period.
Here is a detailed summary of Section 124.136
FEPLA is the substitute FMLA for federal employees working for the U.S. Department of Labor. Under Title 5 of the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) paid parental leave is available for Federal employees with a qualifying child. Whether that is the birth, placement, adoption, or foster care of the qualifying child. Federal employees can be provided with up to 12 weeks (about 3 months) of paid parental leave as of October 1, 2022. Currently, FEPLA is available for a duration of 12 months (a year) following the birth or placement of the child. FEPLA is substituted for unpaid FMLA leave.
Also, FEPLA is available to Federal employees eligible under 5 U.S.C. 6382(a)(1)(A) or (B). The 12 weeks of paid parental leave is available for 12 months the day following the child's birth or placement. The federal employee must have a continuing parental role with the child for the entirety of the leave period. The employee may not use any paid parental leave until they agree in writing before beginning the 12 weeks of paid leave to return to work for 12 weeks. The obligation to return to work begins the first workday after the last day of paid parental leave. United States Department of Labor employees are given access to detailed guidance on the DOL's paid parental leave application process upon entry.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that determines the length of parental leave for eligible employees working under covered employers. Eligible employees are those that have worked for the employer for at least a year and, within that year, have logged at least 1250 hours of work. The employee must also work for an employer that's location has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. The covered employers may be private-sector employees with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks. Covered employers also include any public agency, elementary or secondary schools. In these cases, the number of employees is irrelevant.
Today, neither parent would get paid under FMLA. The federal law simply provides uncompensated job protection and health insurance continuation for eligible employees. Unfortunately, Ohio state laws do not include a separate law that requires employers to pay the wages of employees on family medical leave. But employees can use sick, vacation, or compensatory time to cover their living costs. Employees covered through short-term disability receive a partial wage replacement during the period they are unable to work.
Anyone not covered by the FMLA should consult their employee handbook about parental leave policies.
The FMLA under 50 employees rule changes the length of parental leave available to employees of small businesses. New fathers on paternity leave working for small businesses do not qualify for the 12 weeks of job protection. Now, new mothers may be eligible for 12 weeks of legal rights according to the Ohio administrative code. Under the Ohio administrative code 41 12-5-05, childbirth is justification for female employees working for employers with more than four employees. Later, an amendment added a twelve-week requirement regardless of other qualifications. However, a subsequent court case overturned the rule stating that pregnant women do not have additional rights. Hiring a lawyer may be necessary to interpret or enforce these confusing statutes and rulings. Today, small business owners are not required to provide any form of parental leave- paid or unpaid.
Small business are not covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Thus, as a small business owner, it is up to you to create policies on paternity leave for employees. Offering paternity leave can have many positive effects on morale and employee retention. Also, establishing a parental leave policy is an exemplary demonstration of supporting work-life balance. Employees want to feel protected and supported by their employers who provide their living wages. Parental leave policies allow employees to grow their families while remaining employed and supported.
Designing your small business' parental leave policy can be confusing, but Clarity HR is here to help. Contact us today so our team of professionals can assist you with any of your company's human resource needs.