California Family Rights Act |
February 09, 2021

Maternity Leave During Covid-19

Maternity Leave During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic raises concerns for everyone, but especially for new parents or those about to become parents. If an employee is pregnant or recently had a child, it is natural to have anxiety about their health and job security, as well as many questions about employer policies and requirements.

The following is some brief information regarding maternity leave during Covid-19. To discuss a specific situation, employees should not hesitate to contact our team of San Francisco employment lawyers at Minnis & Smallets LLP directly.

New Parent Rights to Take a Leave of Absence during the Pandemic

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides qualified employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain reasons – including the birth of a child – without the fear of losing their jobs. In 2020, the CFRA only applied to employees who worked at companies with 50 or more employees, which made it difficult for new parents working at smaller organizations.

However, as of January 1, 2021, the State of California expanded the reach of the CFRA. Now, employers with five or more employees must provide leave for the birth of a child orother qualified reasons, such as the employee’s own serious health condition or caring for a family member with a serious health condition.

In addition, California also has the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees disabled by pregnancy, including up to four months of disability leave due to pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions. This is in addition to leave rights under the CFRA.

The above laws still apply during the Covid-19 pandemic. If an employer tries to refuse valid leave requests or retaliates against an employee for requesting or taking leave, the employee should speak with an employment lawyer as soon as possible.

What Happens after an Employee Returns from Maternity Leave?

When a new parent takes leave under CFRA or the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, they must be reinstated to the same or a comparable position upon their return. Employers are prohibited from using leave as a negative factor in making adverse employment decisions.

However, with the economic crisis and pressures of Covid-19, many companies might close or need to lay off employees due to reduced revenue. If this happens, a company may terminate an employee on maternity leave, as long as it is for another reason and not related to taking maternity leave.

Learn More About Maternity Leave During Covid-19 from a California Employment Lawyer

California has many protections for new parents, and these protections remain intact during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, some employers violate the law and deny new parents the maternity leave they deserve. When this happens, the San Francisco employment lawyers at Minnis & Smallets LLP are ready to help. Contact us for more information today.