Pregnancy Disability Leave

California Employers’ Obligations

It has been said that death and taxes are the only two sure things in life but man, those people ought to cheer up.  After all, you don’t even get to all that “death is inevitable” drivel without love (hopefully), sex (rock & roll optional), pregnancy and childhood.  California supports the pregnancy part with some of the most protective workplace leave laws in the nation.

California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) law requires any employer with four or more persons on payroll to provide a worker up to four months of unpaid leave for her pregnancy, delivery and newborn care.  Pregnant employees have those rights even if they must go out on such leave within days of taking on new employment.  These protections extend to full time and part-time workers alike.

Among other features:

● Employers may require a doctor’s written confirmation that the employee has become medically disabled due to a pregnancy—unable to perform her job duties—before granting such leave;

● Employers can also require the worker utilize any deserved sick pay during that leave;

● The pregnant worker can take that leave in increments or on a part time work schedule;

● Employers may transfer a pregnant woman who has requested a reduced work schedule to another position, as long as the employee’s benefits and pay remain the same and the position demands the same skill set; and

● Except in very limited circumstances, the employer must provide the worker her former position or an equivalent one on her return from leave.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing website states “all employers must provide information about pregnancy leave rights to their employees and post this information in a conspicuous place where employees tend to gather. Employers who provide employee handbooks must include information about pregnancy leave in the handbook.”  The State of California issues a pamphlet it suggests can be used to provide the required pregnancy leave rights information to individual employees.

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