How Much Maternity Leave Am I Entitled To?

by | Mar 31, 2023 | Employment |

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and California Pregnancy Disability Leave law allow employees to take as many as 28 weeks of leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and baby bonding reasons.  Although an individual is unlikely to take the maximum amount of possible leave, it might come as a relief to know it’s available during this important time.

California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law

California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) law provides employees with job-protected, unpaid maternity leave. An employee can be considered disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Once a physician makes this determination, a pregnant employee is eligible to take up to four months (16 weeks) of disability leave that can last for a period before and after childbirth.

Other than a physician’s determination that there is a pregnancy-related disability, there are no other eligibility requirements employees must meet to qualify for PDL.

Pay & Disability Benefits on PDL

Although PDL isn’t paid, employees can use vacation or PTO time to earn their regular income during leave. Their employers can even require that they use this time.

Pregnant employees can also apply for short-term disability benefits with the California State Disability Insurance program. A physician must certify their inability to work due to their pregnancy or a related condition, and benefits are limited only to the period of time that an employee is considered unable to work.

California Family Rights Act Leave

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a new child, whether they were born or adopted by new parents. This leave doesn’t cover pregnancy disability and is a completely separate kind of leave that both parents can take, even if they work for the same employer.

Eligibility requirements for CFRA baby bonding leave include the following:

  • Full-time or part-time employee working in California
  • Employer has at least five employees
  • Has worked for one’s current employer for at least 12 months
  • Has worked at least 1,250 hours within the past 12 months

CFRA leave can be taken at the end of an employee’s pregnancy disability or the end of their four months of pregnancy disability leave, whichever comes first. Most people tend to time this so that CFRA leave kicks in after childbirth, but this leave can be taken at any time during the child’s first year of life, even intermittently.

Job Protection & Maternity Leave

Employees who utilize any kind of pregnancy disability or family leave permitted by California law are protected against termination for requesting time off or using it.

Although employers don’t have to pay an employee on leave unless the employee uses vacation or PTO, they must maintain benefits such as health care coverage and provide the employee with the same or similar job upon their return from leave. The employee also accrues seniority while on leave and enjoys any rights or entitlements that seniority conveys.

Paid Family Leave

Paid family leave is also available to new parents who need to take time off of work to bond with a new child, among other important family-related reasons.  Eligible California workers can receive up to eight weeks of benefits, amounting to 60-70% of their weekly earnings within the 18-month period before starting their claim.

Paid Family Leave does not provide job protection, although someone may be covered by PDL and CFRA and gain job protection that way.