Employee Rights Attorney

Mission Viejo, California

Q: Our employee manual states that maternity leave is granted for birth or adoption of a child. Originally HR told me I could take time off with pay for adoption. When I asked for this information in writing, it changed to I can take time off with no pay, but my job will be guaranteed. What are my rights?

A: “Generally, California laws do not require companies to pay for maternity leave,” says Peter W. Taylor, employee rights attorney, Don D. Sessions Law Corp., Mission Viejo. “The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) does guarantee up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, as well as for the care of a sick family member or your own serious illness. The CFRA is only applicable if you have been working for a company for more than one year, have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous year, and the company has more than fifty employees within seventy five miles.

“A new bill was recently signed into law that will eventually provide up to six weeks of paid leave for CFRA circumstances. This will be paid through the California State Disability System and will be available in July 2004.

“In the meantime, your best bet is to look at your company’s policy manual to see whether tic states that the company will pay for mortality leave. If it does, you should qualify for leave with pay. If the manual does not indicate the leave will be paid, you are not legally entitled to be paid for your maternity leave. Your company will regard its original oral indication to you simply as a mistake. Since you did not detrimentally rely on the initial interpretation, you will probably have no breach of contract claim either.”