Pregnancy disability leave (PDL) in California allows a woman who is disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition to take time off work. This type of leave is available to you if you’re unable to perform your essential job duties due to your pregnancy or a related condition. PDL is part of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and provides up to four months of leave for those who work for employers with five or more employees.
During PDL, your job is protected, meaning you can return to the same position or a comparable one after your leave. Your employer must also maintain your health insurance benefits at the same level and under the same conditions as if you were working during your leave.
Do Non-Pregnant Employees Qualify for Pregnancy Disability Leave in California if a Family Member Is Pregnant?
In California, PDL is specifically designed for the employee who is pregnant. Non-pregnant employees do not qualify for PDL if a family member is pregnant. However, under the California Family and Medical Leave Act, which is similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees can take leave to bond with a new child. This leave would cover time after a family member gives birth.
How to Apply for Pregnancy Disability in California?
To apply for PDL, you should provide your employer with reasonable notice — generally, at least 30 days before your leave should start if the leave is foreseeable. If your need for leave is not foreseeable, you should inform your employer as soon as possible.
You may also need to provide a medical certification from your healthcare provider stating the reasons for the leave and the expected duration. Your employer may have specific forms you need to complete, so it’s best to check with your human resources department or supervisor for the exact procedure.
How Do I Know if My Pregnancy Disability Leave Rights Have Been Violated?
If your employer refuses your request for PDL without a valid reason, wrongfully terminates you, demotes you, or discriminates against you in any other way because you requested or took PDL, your rights may have been violated.
Other signs include:
- Not maintaining your health benefits;
Not reinstating you to the same or a comparable job after your leave;
Not providing the full four months of leave if you are disabled by pregnancy or a related condition.
What Else Should I Know About Taking Leave Under the FMLA in General?
When you’re considering taking leave under the FMLA, it’s essential to understand how this federal law operates to protect you and your job while you’re away for certain life events.
The FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year and requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work.
This means that while you won’t receive your normal paycheck during this time, you can have peace of mind knowing that your job will be waiting for you when you return and that your health insurance stays intact.
There are a few criteria you must meet to be eligible for FMLA leave. First, you need to have worked for your employer for at least 12 months. These months don’t need to be consecutive, which is especially important if you’ve had breaks in service. Additionally, during the 12 months before your leave, you should have clocked at least 1,250 hours of work. Roughly, this translates to a bit over 24 hours a week, which means part-time employees could potentially be eligible as well.
Your employer’s size also affects your eligibility for FMLA leave. The company must employ at least 50 people within a 75-mile radius of your workplace. This radius ensures that larger companies can’t avoid their obligations simply by spreading out their workforce.
FMLA leave can be taken for several reasons. Apart from the joyous occasion of expanding your family through birth, adoption, or foster care placement, FMLA leave also covers serious health conditions that make you unable to perform your job, caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or certain conditions arising from a family member’s active military service.
During the period you’re away from work, you have certain protections and responsibilities. One of the most important is to communicate with your employer. While emergencies may not always provide advance notice, when possible, you should let your employer know at least 30 days in advance that you plan to take FMLA leave. This notice gives your employer time to adjust to your absence and plan accordingly. If it’s not possible to give 30 days’ notice, do so as soon as you can.
If your leave is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment, you might be asked to schedule your treatment in a way that least disrupts the company’s operations. Additionally, while on leave, you may occasionally need to update your employer about your situation and your intent to return to work.
It’s also possible to take FMLA leave intermittently — in blocks of time or by reducing your daily or weekly work schedule — if medically necessary for your serious health condition or that of your family member. However, this might require a medical certification.
Upon returning from FMLA leave, you must be restored to your original job or to an equivalent job with the same pay, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment. However, you may be among the highest-paid 10% of employees within your company, and your absence would cause significant economic injury to the operations. If that is the case, your employer may not be required to guarantee your job.
Lastly, while on FMLA leave, you cannot be forced to take on any work-related tasks. Your employer should not be calling you to finish up “just a few things” or check on work-related matters. This time is for you to handle your personal situation without the added stress of work.
If you encounter problems such as denial of leave, lack of job restoration after leave, or retaliation for taking FMLA leave, these could be grounds for a dispute with your employer. In such cases, having a California attorney with experience in employment law can be invaluable.
They can advise you on the specifics of your situation and represent you if necessary to ensure that your rights under the FMLA are upheld. LegalMatch is a resource that can help you find a qualified lawyer to assist with any issues related to your FMLA leave.
Do I Need an Attorney for Pregnancy Disability Leave in California?
If you believe your rights to pregnancy disability leave have been violated, or if you’re facing challenges in applying for or returning from PDL, you may benefit from speaking with an attorney.
An attorney can offer guidance based on your specific situation and help you understand your rights. They can also represent you in dealings with your employer or in a civil lawsuit for lost wages and other damages.
Finding the right attorney is an important step. LegalMatch offers a convenient online service to match you with an experienced California discrimination lawyer. By providing some details about your case on LegalMatch’s website, you can connect with a lawyer who is well-versed in employment law and can assist you with your pregnancy disability leave concerns. Remember, having legal support can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.