In 2023, the pregnancy disability leave (PDL) in California provides eligible employees up to four months of unpaid leave for pregnancy-related disabilities. It’s important to note that you do not need to take four months to leave all at once. If an employee experiences a pregnancy-related disability, such as pregnancy-induced hypertension, severe morning sickness, or gestational diabetes, they may be entitled to take up to four months of job-protected leave.
The four months are actually classified as 17.3 weeks or 693 hours, which is one-third of the work year.
At Sackett Law, we want every client to understand the benefits available to them during periods of disability, whether their impairment is from injury, illness, or pregnancy. There are several laws affecting pregnant workers and the availability of job protection during unpaid leave as well as paid time off during periods of disability related to pregnancy.
Eligibility for PDL in California
To be eligible for PDL in California, an employee must have a qualifying disability related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. The employee must also work for an employer with at least five employees and there are no tenure or minimum hours of weekly work needed to qualify. The PDL program applies equally to full-time and part-time employees.
The employee may be required to provide their employer with certification from their healthcare provider confirming the need for leave and the approximate duration of the leave. The employer may is not entitled to information about the nature of the diagnosis unless the patient consents.
The employee is obliged to provide at least 30 days advance notice that they will need PDL. However, if 30 days’ notice cannot be given due to an unexpected or emergency condition, notice should be given as soon as possible.
Pregnancy is not itself a disability. But pregnancy-related conditions or complications can be disabling and do qualify a pregnant or postnatal woman for disability leave and perhaps to receive short-term disability benefit payments.
Some common qualifying pregnancy-related conditions entitling a worker to time off include:
- needed prenatal care,
- severe morning sickness,
- doctor-ordered bed rest,
- recovery from childbirth,
- loss or end of pregnancy,
- postnatal care
- or any other related medical condition
Accrued Vacation Time or Sick Time
California law permits an employer to require the employee taking PDL to use their accrued sick time, but it bars any employer from forcing the worker to take their accrued vacation time or other accrued paid time off. Of course, the worker taking the PDL may choose to take their vacation time if they wish to be paid for what is otherwise unpaid leave.
Continuing Health Insurance Coverage
California employers are required to continue paying for an employee’s health insurance during the time they are on Pregnancy Disability Leave if they usually pay for healthcare as part of the employment arrangement.
Other Legal Protections and Guaranteed Pregnancy-Related Leave
Pregnancy Disability Leave is separate from the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). To give birth or to bond with a new child, an eligible employee can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave.
The CFRA and FMLA protective leave terms also apply to those who have a new child placed with them either for adoption or foster care. This baby bonding time is also available to both parents. It must be taken within 12 months of the birth or the arrival of the new child.
Additionally, California provides Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits for employees needing to take time off to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child. PFL benefits are available for up to eight weeks and provide partial wage replacement.
Paid Pregnancy Disability Benefits
The state also pays a disability benefit to partially replace the salary or wages lost during designated periods of pregnancy. Typically, a pregnant worker will qualify for 4 weeks of paid disability before delivery and between 6 and 8 weeks after delivery. The 8-week period is available following cesarean delivery and the shorter period is in cases of vaginal delivery.
PDL and FMLA Leave Runs Concurrently
Overall, eligible employees in California can take up to four months of pregnancy disability leave for pregnancy-related disabilities and other forms of leave available for new parents under state and federal law. The Pregnancy Disability Leave runs at the same time as the Family Medical Leave Act time. The CFRA does not run concurrently because the CFRA does not cover pregnancy.
Contact Sackett Law for More Information about California Pregnancy Disability Leave
The various programs along with state and federal law can be confusing for people unfamiliar with the differences between them. In addition to the various laws protecting workers during periods of leave, California also pays short-term disability benefits for those who qualify.
At Sackett Law, we focus our full legal practice on helping people with disabilities of all kinds, both short and long-term. Contact Sacket Law and Associates today for all the information you need regarding PDL, FMLA, and CFRA. We are ready to help you get the protection and benefits to which you are entitled.