The stork has landed for pregnant employees in California. Companion legislation Senate Bill 299 (SB 299) and Assembly Bill 592 (AB 592) expands existing employment law to ensure that all pregnant women maintain health insurance benefits while on pregnancy-related leave. The bills will require that all employers with five or more employees provide pregnant employees the same level of insurance benefits during their pregnancy-related leaves as they were provided prior to taking pregnancy disability leave (PDL).
The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only applied to employees who worked at a company with more than 50 employees and had worked there for longer than one year or more than 1,250 hours. That often left pregnant employees working for companies with less than 50 people unprotected. Similarly, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) also applied only to employees within a company of 50 or more employees. Furthermore, pregnancy itself is not a condition covered under CFRA.
Additionally, Senate Bill 222 (SB 222) and Assembly Bill 210 (AB 210) were also signed at the same time as SB 299 and AB 592, amending the California Insurance Code to mandate that all individual health insurance policies must provide coverage for maternity services for all insured employees covered under the policy. The passage of the new laws means maternity coverage must be included in the health insurance policies. The mandatory insurance for maternity services under SB 222 and AB 210 will go into effect on July 1, 2012.
While these actions will certainly offer assistance to pregnant women working throughout California, some critics believe the additional health care expenses will put a tremendous strain on small businesses. What do you think?
Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment attorneys