Bringing a new life into the world is a momentous journey filled with joy, anticipation and a whirlwind of preparations. In California, expectant parents can take solace in knowing that the state has established robust pregnancy leave laws to protect and support them during this transformative time. This blog aims to provide a summary of California’s various pregnancy leave laws, to assist parents-to-be in making the best decisions for themselves and their growing families.
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is a state law that offers protection to employees who work for employers with 5 or more employees. Under CFRA, eligible employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for specific family and medical reasons, including pregnancy, childbirth, and bonding with a newborn or adopted child. CFRA ensures that employees can take time off to care for themselves and their families without fear of losing their jobs.
To be eligible for CFRA leave, the employee must have more than 12 months of service with their employer, have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12-month period before the date they want to begin their leave, and the employer must employ 5 or more employees.
Employees who take CFRA leave may be eligible for wage replacement benefits through the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program. SDI benefits are paid at a rate of about 55% of an employee’s weekly wages. As of January 1, 2022, the maximum weekly benefit amount was $1,540.00.
California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)
The California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) provides additional protections for pregnant employees. PDL covers employees who work for employers with five or more employees and allows for up to four months of job-protected leave due to pregnancy-related disabilities. However, pregnancy itself is not considered a disability. Also, unlike CFRA, PDL does not have a length-of-service requirement.
This leave can be taken before or after childbirth, as long as it is deemed necessary by a healthcare provider. PDL ensures that pregnant employees receive the necessary support and accommodations to maintain their health and well-being during pregnancy.
Paid Family Leave (PFL)
California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program offers financial assistance to employees who need time off to bond with a new child or for other qualifying reasons. It is a program within California’s Employment Development Department (EDD). PFL provides eligible employees with up to eight weeks of partial wage replacement. Payments are about 60 to 70 percent of an employee’s weekly wages which were earned five to 18 months before the claim start date. This benefit helps ease the financial burden of taking time off work, allowing parents to spend quality time with their newborns or newly adopted children.
California’s Lactation Accommodation Laws
Although not a leave law, California’s lactation accommodation laws provide important rights for mothers returning back to work after pregnancy leave. The Lactation Accommodation law emphasizes the importance of breastfeeding and provides protection for nursing mothers in the workplace. These laws require employers to provide reasonable break time and a private space (other than a bathroom) for employees to express milk. Additionally, employers must make efforts to accommodate the needs of breastfeeding employees and prevent discrimination based on lactation-related needs.
California’s pregnancy leave laws are designed to support and protect expectant parents throughout the exciting yet challenging journey of pregnancy, childbirth, and bonding with a new child. By understanding these laws and their rights, California employees can confidently navigate the various options available to them and make informed decisions that prioritize. If you have concerns about your rights, please contact Gateway Pacific Law Group at 562.485.6151 for a free consultation.
About The Author
Roger Haag is an attorney who specializes in consumer, labor, and employment law, primarily representing employees. Mr. Haag has extensive experience in various legal proceedings, including arbitration hearings, administrative hearings, bench and jury trials, and has even presented arguments before the California Courts of Appeal. Additionally, Mr. Haag served in the United States Navy and also has professional experience with the Department of the Navy’s Civilian Acquisition Workforce and Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel in Washington D.C.
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