Pregnancy Disability Leave

Pregnancy Disability Leave

Pregnancy Disability Leave

The pregnancy leave lawyers at Minnis & Smallets help employees enforce their rights under California’s pregnancy disability leave law.

Most California employees are legally entitled to take a leave from work during the time in which they are disabled because of a pregnancy. Employees who are retaliated against because they ask for or take a pregnancy disability leave, who are not allowed to return to work after their leave ends, or who lose benefits because they took a leave, are entitled to a remedy under California law. The lawyers at Minnis & Smallets represent and advise employees whose rights were violated.

What is a pregnancy disability?

pregnancy disability is a condition that is related to or caused by pregnancy or childbirth that prevents the employee from engaging in a major life activity, such as work.

Having a pregnancy disability does not mean that the employee must be confined to bed. Being unable to work because of severe morning sickness, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, or any medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth can satisfy the definition of a pregnancy disability.

Who qualifies for a pregnancy disability leave?

A California employee is entitled to an unpaid pregnancy disability leave if:

  • the employer has 5 or more employees, and
  • the employee has a pregnancy disability.

The employee does not need to work full time to be eligible for a pregnancy disability leave.

Can my employer require certification of a pregnancy disability?

An employer can require an employee to provide a medical certification that she has a pregnancy disability, but only if the employer requires all employees to provide medical certifications whenever they seek a leave for medical reasons. The certification does not need to explain the condition that has caused the disability, but it should state the date on which leave should begin and the probable date on which the employee will be able to return to work.

How much leave can a pregnant employee take?

An eligible employee may take up to 4 months off from work during the time that she is experiencing a pregnancy disability. The time off does not need to be continuous, but may be taken as needed. For example, an employee who needs to take mornings off to accommodate morning sickness can do so, and then report to work in the afternoon. After 4 months, if the employee remains disabled, she may be entitled to additional time off as a reasonable accommodation.

Can a pregnant use sick leave or paid vacation so she is paid for her absences while taking pregnancy leave?

Employees have the right to use paid sick leave, vacation days, personal days, or other paid time off during their pregnancy leave. An employer can also require an employee to use paid sick leave during a pregnancy leave, but cannot require the employee to use other paid leave time.

What rights do employees who take pregnancy disability leave have?

Employees usually have the right to return to their job after their leave ends. If that job no longer exists for legitimate business reasons that are unrelated to the pregnancy leave, the employer must provide the employee with a comparable job if one exists.

Employees also have the right to maintain their employer-provided health insurance for the duration of their leave. Employees have the same right to maintain other benefits that they would have if they had taken any other kind of leave.

It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for requesting or taking pregnancy disability leave. That means employees cannot be punished for taking a leave after they return by (for example) immediately firing them after they return to work, reducing their pay, demoting them, or abusing them.

Can a pregnant employee be forced to take a pregnancy disability leave?

No. Whether to take a pregnancy disability leave is up to the eligible employee, not the employer.

What should an employee who wants take a pregnancy disability leave do?

An employer is entitled to reasonable notice of a leave request and must provide the employee with information about when and how the employee should provide that notice. The employee must give notice 30 days in advance when the need for a leave is foreseeable, and must give whatever notice she can when the need for a leave could not have been foreseen.

The employer must respond to the request within 10 days. The employee should seek legal advice if the employer fails to respond or denies the request.

Where can I get legal help?

You can seek a legal remedy if your employer denied your legitimate request for a pregnancy disability leave, failed to return you to your job after the leave ended, or retaliated against you for taking the leave. The lawyers at Minnis & Smallets have advised many employees about their right to take pregnancy disability leave. If you need help, call us at 415-551-0885 or submit our online contact form.


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