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Pregnant? California law protects you

So you're expecting a baby - congratulations! What an exciting time this is for you and your family.

But, if you're like most working women, in the midst of all of this excitement you're probably also feeling a little nervous. Will you be able to afford to take time off to bond with your child? Will your job still be there when you get back? What if you have complications during pregnancy that make it difficult to work?

Types of leave available for pregnant women

Thankfully, California has some of the most generous maternity-related laws in the country. These laws protect your ability to keep your job, and may even provide you with paid time off.

Pregnancy disability leave: Pregnant women whose employer employs at least five people have a right to pregnancy disability leave. During PDL, employees can take up to four months off work without fear of losing their jobs.

In order to qualify for PDL, a doctor must certify that you are experiencing a pregnancy-related disability. Most women qualify for leave in the last four weeks of their pregnancy and for six to eight weeks after birth. You may also qualify to take periods of leave during your pregnancy if you are experiencing complications such as severe morning sickness, or if you need to go to the doctor.

Getting paid during PDL: Although many employers voluntarily offer paid parental leave, it is not required. PDL is unpaid leave. However, workers who pay into the State Disability Insurance program may qualify for payments of up to 55 percent of their weekly wages while on PDL.

Leave to bond with your child: The California Family Rights Act allows new parents to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to bond with their child. Not everyone qualifies, though. Your employer must be large enough to employ 50 people within 75 miles of your jobsite. In addition, you must have worked an average of about 25 hours a week for the 12 months preceding your leave.

Getting paid during bonding leave: Again, while some employers provide paid bonding leave, it is not required under state law. But, if you pay into SDI, you may qualify for up to six weeks of paid parental leave. If you qualify, the SDI program will pay up to 55 percent of your weekly wages.

You can take paid family leave under the SDI program even if do not qualify for leave under the CFRA. However, your employer is not required to hold your job open for you.

What if your employer pushes back?

It is against the law for employers to discriminate against pregnant women. Your employer cannot fire, demote or refuse to promote you simply because you are pregnant. Additionally pregnant women are entitled to reasonable accommodations as recommended by their medical provider.

Similarly, your employer cannot penalize you for taking the leave to which you are entitled.

If your employer has treated you unfairly, it is in your best interest to schedule a consultation with a California employment discrimination attorney. The attorney can review your situation and advise you of your rights and options for moving forward.

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Law Offices of Reisner & King LLP
14724 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 1210
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

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