Pregnancy leave, often referred to as Pregnancy Disability Leave (“PDL”) can be confusing and complex. When a parent is expecting a baby, the mother and the father may be entitled to leave from their job under various federal and state laws. The different laws provide protections that seem to overlap and cause many employers and pregnant women to question which law applies and what pregnancy discrimination protections are offered. For example, under both federal law (Family Medical Leave Act) and state law (California Family Rights Act) if you work full-time somewhere that employs 50 or more employees, and you have worked there for more than a year, you are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave from your job due to a serious medical condition (i.e. pregnancy) or to bond with a new baby. This applies to both mothers and fathers, and biological as well as adopted children.
However, even if you do not meet the requirements above, you are still entitled to four months of job-protected leave if you are pregnant and, as verified by your medical provider, are disabled by your pregnancy under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, so long as your employer employs at least five employees. An employee is qualified for Pregnancy Disability Leave protections if she is considered disabled by her pregnancy. In order to be deemed disabled, a pregnant female must be able to provide proof to her employer from her health care provider that, due to the condition of her pregnancy, she is not able to work or perform one or more of her necessary job functions or perform job functions without putting her health or the health of her unborn child at risk. It is important to note that conditions like morning sickness and time away from work for prenatal health care are considered eligible for protection under Pregnancy Disability Leave. Pregnancy Disability Leave also covers disability after the baby is born, such as recovery time. In addition, it is important to note how Pregnancy Disability Leave works in connection with other leave laws, such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and state law (California Family Rights Act). Pregnancy Disability Leave runs concurrently with FMLA leave, which is leave provided under federal law, but not with CFRA leave, which is California law. CFRA can be taken after Pregnancy Disability Leave has been used. In addition, your employer may have its own leave policy that provides more leave than the law requires.
Under any of the leave laws discussed herein, an employer must maintain any health coverage while the employee is on leave. In addition, so long as the employee returns to work in the time allotted, the employer must reinstate the employee to the same job, with the same job duties and same rate of pay as before the employee took the leave. However, the employer is not required to pay the employee any amount of wages while he or she is on medical leave. No employer may harass, retaliate, or discriminate against any employee for taking lawful medical leave.
Under the FMLA, CFRA, and Pregnancy Disability Leave, an employee applying for leave must provide his or her employer 30 days’ notice of the need for leave due to a pregnancy-related condition, or time to bond with a new baby, if the leave is foreseeable. Medical emergencies do not require 30 days’ notice