Whether you have recently given birth to a child, adopted a child, or are fostering a child in California, you may be entitled to maternity leave per California’s various maternity leave laws.
These laws are designed to protect new and expecting mothers from losing their jobs because of their new and impending responsibilities of motherhood.
Some women are even entitled to pay during their maternity leave. If you have questions or want to better understand your rights under maternity leave law, consult with a California workers’ rights attorney today.
Maternity Leave Duration
There are 3 general laws that govern rights to maternity leave in California:
- Pregnancy Disability Leave: If a woman is disabled because of a pregnancy or childbirth-related condition, she may be entitled to up to 4 months of pregnancy disability leave
- Family Leave: New mothers (and fathers!) who work for employers who employ 20 or more people may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of family leave during their child’s first year, to bond with this new addition to their family
- Reasonable Accommodation Leave:
Under California law, these different types of leaves may be taken consecutively, effectively allowing new parents and disabled mothers several months of protected leave. And, importantly, not only are employers required (subject to few exceptions) to give you your same or similar job back when you finish your leave, they are not allowed to fire or in any way retaliate or discriminate against you for exercising your rights to these various leaves of absence.
Right to Pay During Maternity Leave in California
While these various types of maternity leave are generally unpaid, sometimes it is paid, in full or in part. Below are some instances in which you may have a right to certain compensation or benefits during your maternity leave:
- Medical Benefits: Whether or not you are entitled to pay during leave, your employer is required, per state late law, to maintain your medical benefits at the same rates of contribution during both pregnancy disability leave and family leaves of absence. This means your employer must continue to pay their share of your medical premiums while you’re on leave.
- Employer Policies: Some employers maintain private disability insurance policies that might pay part of your lost wages during such a leave. If you’re not sure, ask
- California’s State Disability Insurance: If you’re off work due to a pregnancy-related disability, you may be entitled to disability pay via California’s statewide short-term disability insurance (SDI) program. If eligible, you may receive a portion of your normal wages, which may range from $50 to $1,216 per week.
- California’s Paid Family Leave Fund: You may be eligible for up to six weeks of paid family leave, during which you can bond with your new child. The Paid Family Leave Act entitles eligible workers to receive up to $1,216 per week for up to six weeks during a one-year period.
- Accrued Paid Time Off: Your employer cannot deny your right to use your accrued vacation days, or sick days, or other accrued paid time off while you are out on maternity leave. But keep in mind, the law also allows your employer to correspondingly require you to use such accrued, paid time off while on maternity leave.
- Other Disability Or Paid Time Off: California law doesn’t require employers to offer temporary disability pay or paid time off to new mothers. But if your employer either pays employees who take non-pregnancy-related time off, they can’t discriminate against you and refuse to pay you just because your leave relates to pregnancy or childbirth. That would be unlawful.
How to Request Maternity Leave in California
In today’s day and age, most employers grant employee requests for maternity (or paternity) leave without much hesitation or hassle. Depending on the type of leave requested, you should be prepared to give us much advance notice as reasonably possible. When you do, be prepared to give your employer the following:
- The anticipated duration of your leave;
- When you anticipate your leave to begin; and
- If your leave is due to your pregnancy or childbirth related disability, medical documentation that supports your need for time off from work.
And always submit your request for maternity-related leave in writing. Even if doing so is not legally required, that writing proves you made such a request, and when, and why, which will be important things to be able to prove if your employer denies you your rights or there’s a dispute later on.
Consult With a California Maternity Leave Attorney Today
At Workplace Rights Law Group, we protect the rights of expectant mothers and new parents throughout the state of California. If you think your employer has denied your rights to maternity (or paternity) leave in California or if you feel they’re retaliating or discriminating against you in any way because of your request, contact our law firm today.
We can review your notice, perform the necessary investigations, and do what is necessary to defend your legal rights.