Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, new parents are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave following the birth of a child. However, companies with less than 50 employees are not required to offer maternity or paternity leave, and no companies are required to pay employees for these leaves of absence.

Some states do have laws in place that afford more employment rights to new parents, but most offer extra protections only for mothers and not for fathers. Maryland is among 14 states, plus Washington, D.C., that do have laws in place to benefit both parents.

Washington, D.C., was actually named the top locale for new dads by the National Partnership for Women & Families, which released a state-by-state analysis of employment rights for new parents recently.

Among policies that received high marks are D.C.'s expansion of FMLA rights to those who do work in businesses with less than 50 employees, and to those who have spent less time on the job. Furthermore, new moms and dads in D.C. can take longer periods of FMLA leave and D.C. also has a paid sick leave law.

Maryland is ranked 12th of the 15 localities that are the best for new dads. Its place on the list was awarded due to the state's employment law regarding flexible sick time. Maryland law allows workers who earn sick leave to use that leave to care for a child or spouse if they so choose.

It is important that new fathers are aware of their paternity leave rights here in Maryland. Some in the medical community have said that it is good for the development of babies to spend time with their fathers, and that new mothers are less likely to suffer from depression if fathers take some time off work. Of course, many fathers would likely want to take time off of work following the birth of a child, but confusion about their rights under the FMLA and Maryland employment law statutes may stop them from doing so.

Source: Huffington Post, "Paternity Leave: Best States For New Dads," Jessica Samakow, June 18, 2012