Statutory paternity leave refers to a right to paternity leave guaranteed under federal or state legislation. Paternity leave refers to the right to take time off of work when a child is born or adopted. Statutory law refers to written, codified law, as opposed to case law in common law systems.
Some form of paid statutory paternity leave exists in many countries and jurisdictions. In most of these countries, the right to the leave was granted by the legislature, not by judge-made law. For this reason, the law is referred to as statutory law and the laws are published in the official law books or code books of the country.
For example, in Argentina, a new father is entitled to take two days of paid paternity leave. In the Bahamas, an individual is entitled to take up to one week of any type of family-related leave, which can be used for paternity leave. In Brazil, five days of paid paternity leave are available; in Canada two weeks of unpaid leave is standard in most provinces; in Chile, one day of paid paternity leave is permitted; in Columbia, four to eight days; in Guatemala, two days at the birth of a child; in Paraguay, two days; and in Uruguay, three days only for civil servants.
In the United States, no paid statutory paternity leave is required by employers. Instead, fathers-to-be are permitted to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA is a federal law passed in 1993.
Statutory paternity leave exists to protect a father's right to be home with his infant child for a set period of time. During this time, the father's job is protected, even if the leave is unpaid. For example, under FMLA, the individual must be able to return to his job at the end of his leave and must suffer no adverse implications to his career as a result of taking the leave.
The rules for paternity leave and the requirements for taking such leave differ by state as well. In most countries that offer statutory paternity leave, the leave is granted to fathers whose wives have had babies, and also to fathers who have adopted infant children. The regulations as far as whether the baby is born to a wife differ depending on the country.