Many employers interested in promoting a family-friendly workplace want to offer new moms and dads paid time off for parental leave. But they need to keep discrimination concerns in mind if they plan to offer moms more “parental” time than dads. Recently, a group of attorneys was asked about the legality of an employer’s idea to offer new moms 80 hours of paid leave while offering new dads just 40 hours of paid time. The attorneys advised the employer that it had better be careful.
“Parental leave must be provided equally to men and women,” Kaitlin L. Hillenbrand, an attorney with the Steptoe & Johnson PLLC law firm in Bridgeport, West Virginia, says. That doesn’t mean, however, that new moms can’t be offered more time off than men. Employers are within the law if they provide medical leave related to recovering from pregnancy and childbirth to just moms, but any leave designated for bonding with and caring for a child needs to be offered to men and women on equal terms.