What if you are having a hard pregnancy, and you need more than the usual amount of maternity leave? You are probably wondering:
- What if I get put on bed rest and can’t work?
- What if my labor is horrible and I need more than 12 weeks to recover?
- How much disability leave can I take?
- Can my boss refuse to let me take disability leave beyond my maternity leave?
- Do I have the right to return to the same position afterwards? Same pay?
- What else do I need to know?
Below are ten critical pieces of information that you need to know about Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL).
10 Facts about Pregnancy Disability Leave
First, an employee who is disabled on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is entitled to take PDL. PDL is a part of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
Second, an employee “disabled by pregnancy” is entitled to up to four months of disability leave. That begs the question, what does “disabled by pregnancy” mean?
An employee is disabled by pregnancy and entitled to leave if, in her doctor’s opinion, she is: unable to work, unable to perform her essential job functions, or unable to perform these functions without undue risk to herself, the successful completion of her pregnancy, or to other persons.
A woman suffering from severe morning sickness is considered disabled by pregnancy. It also includes time off needed for prenatal care, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, or any related medical condition.
Third, an employee is only entitled to use the maximum amount of PDL if she was actually disabled by pregnancy for four months. If the disability ends the leave must end.
Fourth, leave can be taken before or after childbirth. All leave taken in connection with a specific pregnancy counts toward computing the four-month period.
Fifth, PDL applies to all employers in California who have five or more employees.
Sixth, if an employee is disabled and requests a reasonable accommodation upon the advice of her doctor, an employer must provide the reasonable accommodation. As an accommodation, and with the advice of her doctor, an employee can request transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position for the duration of her pregnancy.
Seventh, PDL will be deducted from an employee’s twelve weeks of FMLA leave. On the other hand, employees are entitled to take PDL in addition to any leave entitlement they might have under CFRA. For example, an employee could take four months pregnancy disability leave for her disability, and 12 weeks CFRA leave to bond with the baby or to bond with an adopted child.
Eighth, after a PDL or transfer, employees are guaranteed a return to the same position. If her same 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.
Ninth, unlike the CFRA and FMLA, there is no length of service requirement or requirement that an employee have worked 1250 hours prior to the commencement of a leave.
Tenth, if possible, an employee must provide her employer with at least 30 days advance notice of the date for which the pregnancy disability leave is sought or transfer begins and the estimated duration of the leave. If 30 days advance notice is not possible due to a medical emergency, notice must be given as soon as practical. The leave may be modified as a woman’s changing medical condition dictates.
PDL & Pregnancy Discrimination
There is much more to PDL that what is outlined here. To read the PDL statute, visit the California Government Code § 12945. If you have been denied PDL or want to learn more, contact us for an explanation of your rights.
If you want to learn more about pregnancy discrimination, visit this page. If you were fired, demoted, or refused a job because you became pregnant, its important to review whether or not you may have a case. Branigan Robertson recently received a verdict over $500,000 for a client in Orange County Superior Court. Mr. Robertson’s client was fired after she delivered a stillborn child. To learn more about the case, click here.
If you want to learn about maternity leave, visit this page. It gives an overview of CA’s leave rights for pregnant women.