The right to pregnancy leave is, like many other employee rights, often misunderstood. California provides various legal protections for employees who need leave because of their pregnancy and also for the adoption of children.
Your Right to Take Leave for Your Pregnancy
In California, there are essentially two rights that protect you here:
1. California “Pregnancy Disability Leave Act”
Any female employee whose employer has five or more employees is protected by this law. This is true from day 1 of her employment. This law provides the following rights:
- The right to take six weeks off for the birth of a child;
- The right to take up to four months off if the pregnancy is “disabling” (most pregnancies qualify for this);
- The right to “light-duty” or a less stressful job if one is available.
Those are the basics of this law’s rights. Note that this law specifically does not apply to men; it only applies to women.
2. California Family Rights Act (often called “FMLA” or “Family Medical Leave”)
FMLA is a Federal law that many people refer to as “Family Leave” or “Family Medical Leave.” California has its own version, called the “California Family Rights Act,” or “CFRA.” They are basically the same thing. They provide the following rights:
Other Laws Protecting Pregnant Employees
- Up to 12 weeks off for the pregnancy or adoption of a child;
- This is for men and women; However, there are certain requirements: 1) over a year of service with the employer; 2) 1,250 hours of service in the last 12 months with that employer; 3) the employer must have over 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of the employee
Leave laws are also some of the most complicated laws that protect to employees, but they provide some of the best protections as well.
The rights above are not the only laws that may apply. For example, employees who have chronic conditions may have what the law calls a “disability” that provides them with further protections.
In addition, these protections can “stack”. For example, a pregnant woman may have a right to pregnancy disability, which she can utilize even if she hasn’t been employed for a year. Then, if she becomes a year-long employee during the period of that leave (which, itself, could be up to four months), she will have another right kick in, namely the California Family Rights Act, which will give her another 12 weeks of leave. But then, on top of that, if the pregnancy or conditions related to it, or conditions related to her childbirth, cause her to be “disabled,” she can have additional rights to time off as an accommodation of her disability. This website has additional information regarding disability accommodation on other pages.
The bottom line is that employees who are concerned about their rights because they are pregnant need to remember that there are many different rights that protect them. These rights can intersect in ways that are very beneficial to the employee. No pregnant employee should assume that they are without protections.
Contact The Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak
The Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak is always willing to speak with pregnant or adopting employees. Contact us at 415-693-0300 or send an email
to receive a free consultation to help determine what rights those employees have.