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Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy
- Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor

Reasons for Leave
New Child

The FMLA entitles eligible employees to take FMLA leave for the birth of a son or daughter, and to care for the newborn child, and for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care.

  • Both mother and father are entitled to FMLA leave for the birth of their child, or placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care.
  • An employee's entitlement to leave for a birth, adoption or foster care expires at the end of the 12-month period beginning on the date of the birth or placement. If state law allows or the employer permits leave to be taken for a longer period, such leave will not qualify as FMLA leave.
  • A husband and wife who are eligible for FMLA leave and are employed by the same covered employer may be limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of leave during any 12-month period if the leave is taken for birth of the employee's son or daughter or to care for the child after birth or for placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care or to care for the child after placement, or to care for the employee's parent with a serious health condition. See Limitation for Spouses Working for the Same Employer for more information.
  • The mother is entitled to FMLA leave for any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, for prenatal care or for her own serious health condition following the birth of a child. The husband is entitled to FMLA leave if needed to care for his pregnant spouse who is incapacitated or if needed to care for her during her prenatal care, or if needed to care for the spouse following the birth of a child if the spouse has a serious health condition. See Serious Health Condition for more information.
  • Circumstances may require that FMLA leave begin before the actual date of birth of a child. An expectant mother may take FMLA leave before the birth of the child, for prenatal care, or if her condition makes her unable to work, for example. Similarly, employees may take FMLA leave before the actual placement or adoption of a child if an absence from work is required for the placement to proceed. For example, the employee may be required to attend counseling sessions, appear in court, consult with an attorney or doctor, or travel to another country to complete an adoption. The source of an adopted child is not a factor in determining eligibility for leave for this purpose.
  • Intermittent and reduced schedule leave may be used after a birth or placement to be with a healthy child only if the employer agrees. For example, an employer and employee may agree to a part-time work schedule after the birth or placement for bonding purposes. The employer's agreement is not required, however, for intermittent leave required by a serious health condition of the mother or child.

For more information on this aspect of the FMLA, see the FMLA regulations: § 825.112, § 825.120, § 825.121.

Continue to the Main Menu to learn about employees' and employers' rights and responsibilities, including what notice and certifications may be required, or Return to Reasons for Leave.