Maternity Leave and Paid Time Off for Pregnancy in California

Paid and unpaid time off is available for pregnancy and parenting in California.

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California's pregnancy and parental leave laws are among the very best in the nation. While employees in most states must rely on the federal FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), California has also enacted the CFRA (California Family Rights Act), which applies to California workers who:

  • have worked for your employer for at least one year, and at least 1,250 hours during the last twelve months, and
  • work at a worksite with at least 50 employees within 75 miles. 

California law also provides disability benefits for employees who are temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy, as well as paid parental leave benefits. And, California has a pregnancy disability leave law, which gives employees the right to take up to four months off, unpaid, in addition to the leave available to them under the CFRA. When you put it all together, new mothers in California might be eligible for up to seven months off work, with partial wage replacement for part of their leave. 

California Family Rights Act

If you meet the requirements set out above, then you are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from your work in order to bond with your new baby. During your leave, your employer must continue to provide you with any health care benefits you were receiving before your leave, however you will be required to pay your portion of the premiums. Keep in mind that your portion will now be after-tax, which means your premiums will cost you more up front than they did while you were working. 

California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law

California also has a Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) that will kick in if you are incapacitated during your pregnancy and will allow you to take up to four months off. Pregnancy-related concerns that qualify for PDLL include severe morning sickness, prenatal care, physician-ordered bed rest, childbirth and recovery from childbirth. This time off is not simply for parenting: You must be deemed incapable of doing at least one essential job task without risk to yourself (or your unborn child). The pregnancy disability leave requires that your position be held for up to four months (unpaid). this time off is in addition to the 12 weeks of parenting leave available under the CFRA, which means you could be eligible for up to seven months off, depending on how long you are physically unable to work. 

California Paid Disability and Family Leave

California is also one of the few states that offers some paid leave benefits for employees who are temporarily unable to work due to disability or who want to take time off work to bond with a new child. California's short-term disability insurance (SDI) program pays a portion of the employee's usual wages while the employee is temporarily disabled, including by pregnancy and childbirth. The money is paid from a state fund, which is replenished by payroll withholding from employee paychecks. 

Through the same program, California has a paid family leave (PFL) program, which provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement for parents who take time off to bond with a new child.

Read more about California's short-term disability and paid leave programs.

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