California Pregnancy Disability Leave

California Pregnancy Disability Leave Rights

How to Qualify, Length of Leave & Return-to-Work Rights

A child’s development during the first few months of a baby’s life can have a big impact on a child’s long-term development. California law protects this important time for development by allowing mothers to take pregnancy-related leave. 

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires employers with more than five employees to provide as much as four months of unpaid time off, regardless of how long the employee has been with the company or whether the employee is part-time. 

Mothers with newborns are also eligible for additional time under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). 

FEHA also requires employers to transfer expecting mothers to less hazardous or strenuous positions while pregnant. An employer must make the transfer to a safer position unless it can prove that providing the accommodation would put an unreasonable strain on the organization. 

How to Qualify for Leave

First, an employee must receive documentation from a medical treatment provider that says they are unable to perform at least one or more job functions because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Common conditions include recovery from childbirth, medically required bed rest, severe morning sickness, and more.

Length of Leave

The amount of time given depends on the circumstances of each woman’s pregnancy. Employers are allowed to treat pregnancy as temporary disabilities, which means that if you can work as an on needed basis for the period leading up to the child birth an employer may request that you work as is medically possible. However, as mentioned above women are entitled to up to 12 weeks (4 months) of unpaid leave even before the childbirth, if deemed medically necessary. 

Generally, pregnancy disability leave (PDL) runs at the same time as FMLA time. However, under the CFRA mothers are allowed additional time off to care for their new born children, up to three months. 

In total an employee may be eligible for seven months of pregnancy related leave under FEHA(PDL), FMLA, and CFRA. In some circumstances other FEHA related leave may also be possible.

Notice Requirements

An employer must be given reasonable notice before taking PDL. This usually means 30 days, but medical emergencies only require as much notice as reasonably possible.

Rights on Returning to Work

Women must not be terminated or provided a lesser position than the position they enjoyed. The only exception is if the employer eliminated the position due to a layoff. A woman is also entitled to reasonable accommodations as is medically necessary after the pregnancy, including taking a less strenuous or dangerous position.

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