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California Pregnancy and Maternity Leave Laws: Your Rights Explained

California Maternity and Pregnancy Leave Laws

New parenthood can be exhilarating, but it can also make everyday activities more challenging, including work obligations. If you are a new or expecting parent, you deserve to rest. California maternity leave laws protect your right to take much-needed rest associated with pregnancy or welcoming a new child into your household.

If you need maternity leave or pregnancy-related support at work, you should speak to an attorney about your options. Matern Law Group, PC has the experience and dedication to help make sure you receive all the legal protections you need as a new or expecting parent in the workplace.

State and Federal Protections 

Several legal protections under state and federal law can help new, working parents. If you are pregnant, dealing with the effects of a pregnancy, or adjusting to a new child in your home, you have multiple options for taking leave and receiving work accommodations. Take a look below at the several parental and pregnancy rights that can protect you.

California Family Rights Act and Family and Medical Leave Act

If you are dealing with a major life event, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allow you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period. When it comes to pregnancy and new parenthood, employees can take FMLA or CFRA leave for the following reasons:

  • To address a serious health condition (which can include pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions);
  • To take the necessary steps to give birth to a child; and
  • To bond with a child who has just come into the household by way of birth, adoption, or foster care (within the first year).

During this leave period, your employer must maintain your job-related benefits, such as health insurance and seniority privileges. Your employer must also safeguard your job during your leave. When your period of leave is over, your employer must return you to the same or a similar position.

Your employer can require you to give a 30-day notice before taking leave. However, individuals who need leave for unanticipated circumstances are required to provide notice only as soon as practicable.

If you want to take leave under the CFRA or FMLA, the following circumstances must apply:

  • Your employer has at least five employees;
  • You have worked for your employer for more than 12 months; and
  • You worked at least 1,250 hours for your employer in the 12 months before taking leave.

If your employer denies your right to leave or fails to protect your job while on leave, you can file a legal complaint to recoup damages and recover work benefits.

California Pregnancy Disability Leave

The duration or aftermath of a pregnancy can be particularly debilitating for some individuals. California maternity leave laws recognize that many expectant parents need additional time to handle the health-related effects of carrying a child. If your pregnancy has affected your ability to perform tasks at your job, California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave law allows you to take up to four months of unpaid, job-protected leave.

Among many others, the following are pregnancy-related reasons that could qualify you for Pregnancy Disability Leave in California:

  • Time needed for prenatal care,
  • Childbirth,
  • Pregnancy loss,
  • Severe morning sickness,
  • Time needed for postnatal care,
  • Doctor-ordered best rest,
  • Recovery from childbirth, and
  • Other pregnancy-related conditions.

Only employers that have five or more employees are subject to this law, and the same notice rules as those for CFRA apply. You might also be required to provide written certification from your healthcare provider about your need for leave, but your employer cannot inquire about your diagnosis.

Paid Leave Options

While unpaid, job-protected leave can provide significant relief to new mothers and fathers, the lack of payment is still worrisome for many people. In many cases, employers do not have to pay for maternity or paternity leave, but there are a handful of options for receiving pay while you are away.

Some employees utilize their employer’s vacation pay or disability insurance policies to receive pay during leave. Many employees also have the option of using California’s Paid Family Leave benefits. To take advantage of Paid Family Leave, you must:

  • Be unable to work;
  • Have lost wages;
  • Be employed or actively seeking work;
  • Have earned at least $300 from which State Disability Insurance was withheld during your base period;
  • Provide supporting documentation regarding your need; and
  • Submit request paperwork within 41 days of beginning leave.

If the state grants you paid leave, you can receive disability pay that amounts to between 60% and 70% of your weekly wages.

Pregnancy Accommodation at Work

If you need or prefer to work for the duration of your pregnancy or immediately after giving birth, your employer should provide reasonable accommodations as needed. Reasonable accommodations for employees who are pregnant, have pregnancy-related conditions, or have recently given birth, include:

  • Job restructuring,
  • Providing seating,
  • Eliminating strenuous tasks, and
  • Increasing the number of work breaks.

Your employer’s obligation to accommodate you includes breastfeeding needs. When it comes to break time for nursing mothers, the law requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time and a private area for expressing breast milk.

Speak to an Attorney Today

Matern Law Group can ensure that an employer respects your needs during pregnancy and new parenthood. The firm and its accomplished attorneys have extensive experience in this field and are dedicated to ensuring California employees have healthy, respectful workplaces. If you need help, call Matern Law Group at 855-913-1134 or schedule a consultation online.

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