California Laws Related to Maternity Leave

We have come a long way since the days when a woman had to choose between raising a family and pursuing her career. While we still have a great deal of ground to cover, the law provides several protections for female employees seeking maternity leave. When employers deny the proper leave, they are violating the rights of their workers, and they become liable for pregnancy discrimination. Our Los Angeles employment attorneys wish to educate the public about their rights as expectant and new mothers in the workplace.

Federal laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) ensure that a female worker who becomes pregnant can take up to 12 weeks of leave without losing her position or giving up her insurance coverage, as long as she has worked at that business for a year and the business meets certain threshold criteria.

In addition to the FMLA, California is at the forefront of protecting the rights of working mothers, and this state offers some of the strongest laws supporting pregnant workers. California offers the Paid Family Leave program. Qualifying workers can receive up to 55 percent of their weekly wages up to a maximum weekly benefit amount of $987 while they are out to bond with a newborn baby.

In addition, California employers must offer women at least four months of disability leave for pregnancy related reasons, including:

  • Physician-recommended bed rest
  • Prenatal visits and care
  • Severe morning sickness
  • Childbirth and recovery

The chief requirement for this type of leave is that the woman is unable to perform at least one essential duty of her job. Maternity disability leave is available at any time during the pregnancy process, and it does not have to be consecutive or taken all at the same time.

If the woman requires more than the four months provided by her pregnancy disability leave, she can seek additional leave under the California Family Rights Act. This law provides an additional twelve weeks of unpaid leave. Women eligible for this leave can use the time to bond with the new child.

California also requires employers to make any and all reasonable accommodations necessary to allow pregnant workers to continue working and to consider the advice of their healthcare providers related to her pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. This might mean reducing the employee’s work schedule or providing seating or otherwise accommodating the worker.

Failure to comply with these requirements is a serious problem for employers, and there are serious consequences for refusal to honor the legal protections of pregnant workers. If you have suffered pregnancy discrimination or your employer denied you the full maternity leave, you should contact a Los Angeles employment lawyer to review your situation and provide an in-depth assessment of your legal options.

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