Pregnancy Leave Laws

An employer may not terminate your employment, punish, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate against you for requesting or taking a leave of absence during your pregnancy. There are three key statues which may affect your pregnancy leave rights.

  • Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL)



The California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) requires employers to provide up to 4 months of leave for an employee who is disabled by “pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy-related medical condition.” This leave may be taken all at once or intermittently.

A woman is considered “disabled” if, in her the opinion of her health care provider, she is unable to work, unable to perform one or more of her essential job functions, or unable to perform her job functions without undue risk to herself, the successful completion of her pregnancy, or other persons. Some common examples of a disability due to pregnancy include: a woman suffering from severe morning sickness, a woman who needs time off for prenatal care, or a woman who needs to recover from childbirth.

The PDLL also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a pregnant employee, if she so requests, based on the advice of her health care provider. This duty to accommodate includes transferring a pregnant employee to a less strenuous or hazardous position, modifying the pregnant employees work schedule to permit earlier or later hours, providing the pregnant employee with more frequent breaks, or providing or modifying work furniture.

After a pregnancy disability leave or transfer under PDLL, employees are guaranteed the right to return to the same position. If the employee’s position is no longer available, the employer must offer a position that is comparable in terms of pay, location, job content, and promotional opportunities, unless the employer can prove that no comparable position exists.

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)



Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal law, an employee may be entitled to an additional 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a serious health condition, the birth of a child, or to care for a newborn child. A “serious health condition” under the FMLA includes any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care.

Under the FMLA both mother and father are entitled to 12 weeks leave to bond with a newborn. If both husband and wife work for the same employer, leave is limited to 12 weeks between the spouses. This leave can be taken all at once or on an intermittent or reduced schedule if the employer agrees.

  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA)



The California counterpart of the FMLA, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), also provides for 12 weeks leave for the birth of a child. The major difference between the two statutes is that CFRA does not cover pregnancy as a “serious health conditions.”

To be eligible for leave under both the FMLA and CFRA, the requesting employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the previous 12 month period. In addition, these statutes only cover employers with at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite where the employee seeking CFRA leave is employed.

If you feel you may have been denied leave you were entitled to, please contact our office.