Pregnancy Disability Leave in California

Posted by Sessions & Kimball |

Having a baby can be an exciting time for expectant parents, but navigating time off work and what your legal rights are can be confusing.  

In California, a female worker is entitled to up to 4 months of pregnancy disability leave (PDL) during her pregnancy or postpartum period if she remains disabled. This includes physical disability due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. It also includes mental disabilities caused by these conditions that render the employee unable to perform their job duties.

Even though PDL is an unpaid leave period, the employer must still maintain the employee’s existing medical coverage and health benefits throughout this period. This means that the employee can continue receiving all the same benefits they had before taking their leave—including vacation days and other paid time off—during their PDL period.

Who is Eligible For Pregnancy Disability Leave?

Pregnant employees in California may be eligible for pregnancy disability leave (PDL) if they are unable to perform at least one essential job function due to a pregnancy-related disability and their employer has 5 or more employees.

There are many conditions that qualify for PDL in California, including severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, diabetes (gestational), preeclampsia, postpartum depression, miscarriage, emotional recovery from miscarriage, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and other serious health conditions.

California law extends pregnancy disability leave protections to all employees, regardless of full-time or part-time status. Additionally, an employee does not have to work a minimum number of hours to be eligible for PDL protection – as long as they are employed and meet the necessary criteria, they can take leave under the PDL. 

If you are experiencing any of these conditions or another related condition that requires significant amounts of rest or medical care, then you may qualify for PDL. 

Returning From Pregnancy Disability Leave

Under California law, an employer must reinstate an employee who has taken pregnancy disability leave back into their role or one that is comparable in pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Your employer also cannot fire or discriminate against you because of your decision to take pregnancy disability leave.  

How Long Is Pregnancy Disability Leave in California? 

Under California law, an eligible employee can take up to four months of PDL per pregnancy before returning to their job or equivalent position. During this time, employers must continue providing health insurance coverage to the employee.

The actual length of time an employee will take off varies and is not automatically four months. Rather, it is determined by the employee’s health care provider. Additionally, PDL does not need to be taken all at once and may be taken intermittently or with a reduced work schedule in order to accommodate an employee’s specific needs during their pregnancy.

Employee Rights 

If an employee can still perform their essential job functions with a reasonable accommodation, the employee cannot be forced to go on leave before they and their health care provider requests it. It should also be noted that under California law, transgender employees who have pregnancy disabilities are entitled to all the same rights and accommodations afforded to any other employee with pregnancy-related conditions.

If you have any questions or need help with a PDL related claim, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.