The California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDL) gives employees the opportunity to take a leave from work before, during, and/or after a pregnancy. PDL ensures that when an employee takes pregnancy disability leave, they will continue to receive any  existing healthcare coverage. The employee may also resume his or her original or equal position after he or she returns from leave.

If the employee is qualified for PDL, then the employer cannot deny or punish an employee for requesting or taking the leave.

Who Are Qualified Employees and Employers?

PDL applies to all public employers and to private employers with five or more employees. An employee qualifies for PDL if she is disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Employees must pay into the State Disability Insurance to qualify for paid leave.

How Do I Know If My Rights Have Been Violated?

 If you and your employer qualify for PDL, but your employer does any of the following, then your rights have been violated:

  • If your employer refuses to continue your health coverage.
  • If your employer refuses to give a requested written promise of employment protection.
  • If your employer refuses to honor physician recommended accommodations.
  • If your employer requires you to use paid vacation leave during the leave.
  • If your employer terminates your position at any point during and at the end of PDL.
  • If your employer cutes your wages due to your pregnancy and/or request for leave.
  • If your employer makes your working conditions worse due to your pregnancy and/or request for leave.

How Do I Ask For Pregnancy Leave?

If an employee believes they qualify for PDL, they must meet with a physician and then submit a physician-supported request for PDL for at least 30 days before the leave begins. If it is not possible to submit the request within 30 days prior to leave, then the employee must request leave as soon as possible.

 If the employer provides continued health coverage for employees who take non-pregnancy related leave, then the employer is required to continue health coverage for employees who take PDL.

Employers may require employees to use accrued sick leave during any unpaid time on leave.

Do Non-Pregnant Employees Qualify If a Family Member Is Pregnant?

In 2012, California expanded PDL regulations to protect non-pregnant employees. If the employer believes the employee is pregnant, then the new law will protect the employee. This is true even if the employee is not actually pregnant. Under new regulations, employees can take PDL leave on a per-pregnancy rather than an annual basis.

Employers that cannot return employees to their original positions must notify the employees about similar positions. With a few exceptions, employers must give their employees at least sixty days notice after the scheduled reinstatement date. Also, employees’ health benefits must continue during the leave.

Do Homosexual Couples Qualify For Pregnancy Leave?

Following a 2013 Supreme Court decision, legal protections like PDL and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) now apply to same-sex spouses. The CFRA now offers protected leave to a non-pregnant spouse or parent. Same-sex spouses now have the opportunity to bond and care for their children.

For lesbian spouses, it will give the non-pregnant spouse the chance to take a 12 week leave under CFRA and expand the leave of the pregnant, delivering spouse by 12 additional weeks.

Should I Contact an Attorney about Pregnancy Disability leave?

Yes. If your employer violated your rights, you should speak with an employment attorney.