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Twelve Weeks of Job-Protected Maternity/Paternity Leave

March 9, 2022 | Employment Law

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for their own serious health condition or a family member with a serious health condition, or to bond with a new child.  Legislation effective January 1, 2021, expanded CFRA in several major respects. In addition, California law requires covered employers to provide employees disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition with unpaid, job-protected leave (PDL) and/or accommodations.


An employee disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition is entitled to up to four months of disability leave per pregnancy. If the employer provides more than four months of leave for other types of temporary disabilities, the same leave must be made available to employees who are disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Leave can be taken before and after birth during any period of time the employee is physically unable to work because of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition. All leave taken in connection with a specific pregnancy counts toward computing the four-month period. PDL is available when an employee is actually disabled. This includes time off needed for prenatal or postnatal care, severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, loss or end of pregnancy, or any other related medical condition.  PDL may be modified as an employee’s changing medical condition dictates. PDL applies to all employers with five or more full or part-time employees. Other than having a qualifying pregnancy-related disability, there are no tenure, hours, other eligibility requirements, and full- and part-time employees are treated the same.


If possible, an employee must provide their employer with at least 30 days’ advance notice of the date for which the pregnancy disability leave is sought and the estimated duration of the leave.  If 30 days’ advance notice is not possible due to a change in circumstances or a medical emergency, notice must be given as soon as practicable.  The employer may require written certification from the health-care provider of the employee seeking PDL stating the reasons for the leave and the probable duration of the condition. However, the health-care provider may not disclose the underlying diagnosis without the consent of the patient.


Sometimes employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition are able to keep working with a reasonable accommodation. If such an employee requests a reasonable accommodation upon the advice of the employee’s health-care provider so that the employee can keep working, an employer must provide reasonable accommodation.  For example, on the advice of a physician, an employee can request to transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position or modified duties because of the employee’s pregnancy related condition.

If you have a disability and were denied reasonable accommodation contact our informed attorneys today.