Pregnancy Disability Leave Laws in California
If you are pregnant and working, we want to congratulate you and also ease your mind about the months ahead.
Expecting a child can take a lot of preparation regarding your medical care, future child care, and the ways to balance your work with your physical/medical needs while pregnant.
Fortunately, there’s a good chance you can take advantage of pregnancy disability leave in California to help you get much-needed rest without having to worry about your job.
The Benefits of Pregnancy Disability Leave
The State of California has many employment laws protecting pregnant women and new parents.
California’s pregnancy disability leave laws require many California employers to provide employees dealing with the effects of pregnancy with certain job protections and benefits.
Benefits under the pregnancy disability leave laws include:
- Up to four months of leave;
- Job reinstatement after returning from leave; and
- Continuation of employer-paid group health benefits while on leave.
These benefits are straightforward, but they’re not absolute. Your right to job reinstatement doesn’t always mean that your employer must return you to the same job.
Your employer can return you to a comparable job that has the same benefits and tasks.
Also, this law doesn’t require your employer to continue to pay for your healthcare benefits during the leave unless they were normally paying for those benefits before.
And while your employer cannot fire you for your pregnancy-related limitation, they can fire you for reasons not connected to your pregnancy, such as a disciplinary issue or a company-wide layoff.
There can be plenty of grey area regarding whether your employer’s actions comply with the law, but an experienced pregnancy discrimination attorney can spot and resolve the violations.
CA pregnancy disability leave doesn’t include wages, but proper planning can help you bring in as many wages and supplemental benefits as possible while pregnant.
You have the right to ask your employer for reasonable accommodations to help you keep working while pregnant.
You can use paid sick leave and vacation time while on leave (but your employer cannot require you to take vacation time while on leave).
You might also have access to wage replacement benefits from state disability insurance and/or paid family leave.
Who Is Eligible for Pregnancy Disability Leave?
In general, any California employer who has five or more employees must provide pregnancy disability leave to employees whose pregnancies prevent them from working.
A pregnancy itself is not a disability under this law, but many pregnancy-related conditions are, including:
- Morning sickness,
- Orders to be on bed rest,
- Postnatal care needs,
- Prenatal care needs,
- Recovery from giving birth, and
- Recovery from losing a pregnancy.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) notes that many pregnant mothers experience pregnancy-related disability four weeks before giving birth, six weeks after a vaginal birth, and eight weeks after a cesarean section.
There are many other pregnancy-related conditions not listed above that could prevent you from working and make you eligible for CA pregnancy disability leave.
It’s important to be in communication with your doctor about your work-related needs during and after your pregnancy.
Requesting Pregnancy Disability Leave
Typically, you need to give your employer 30 days’ notice before taking leave. Also, your employer can ask your doctor to certify your need for leave and the amount of time you need.
Although your employer can ask for proof, they don’t have the right to dig into your medical history. Your doctor needs consent before they can reveal your medical diagnosis.
Filing a Complaint
If you took the proper steps to request leave and your employer denied your request or fired you, it’s probably time for legal action.
You can file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. If you win, you could be entitled to money damages and/or job reinstatement.
Speak to an Attorney to Protect Your Family and Livelihood
Unfortunately, employers don’t always act kindly or lawfully when you’re vulnerable, but we can help protect you.
At Startpoint Employment Lawyers, we respond with empathy, integrity, commitment, and top-quality representation to resolve your employment disputes.
Don’t let your needs or rights be ignored at work. You can reach us online or call us at 310-340-1192 for a free consultation.