Pregnancy Disability Leave

What if you have a hard pregnancy or labor, and you need more than the usual amount of maternity leave? There is a California law called Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) that was created to help women take additional time off while guaranteeing that their job will be available to when they get better.

You are probably wondering:

  • What if I get put on bed rest before I got into labor and can’t work?
  • What if my labor is horrible and I need more than 12 weeks to recover?
  • What if I have a cesarean section and need additional time off?
  • Can my boss refuse to let me take disability leave beyond my maternity leave?
  • How much disability leave can I take?
  • Do I have the right to return to the same position afterwards? Same pay?

This article answers common questions that people need to know about PDL. Mr. Robertson has also prepared a video on maternity leave and Pregnancy Disability Leave that should answer a lot of your questions. The PDL section is in the middle of the video. On the other hand, if you are looking to learn more about standard maternity leaves, we have published detailed pages on the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The Basics of Pregnancy Disability Leave

First, an employee who is disabled because of her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is entitled to take Pregnancy Disability Leave. PDL is a part of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

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 completely unable to work, unable to perform one or more of the essential job functions, or she is unable to perform her job without undue risk to herself, the successful completion of her pregnancy, or to other people.

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 (four months) if she was actually disabled by pregnancy for all four of those months. If the disability ends, her leave of absence 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.

Pregnancy Disability Leave & Accommodation | Branigan Robertson

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, Pregnancy Disability Leave 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 then 12 weeks CFRA leave to bond with the baby or to bond with an adopted child. This amounts to a total of seven months of leave.

Eighth, after PDL 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, responsibilities, 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 means you don’t have to have worked at the company for one full year and you don’t have to have 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.