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What rights does California law offer to pregnant workers?

Pregnant women have a lot on their mind, especially if things do not go as expected. While you can anticipate needing to go to regular prenatal appointments complications can occur such as severe morning sickness or the need to go on bed rest. This can make it difficult to work. Fortunately, California law protects pregnant workers.

California pregnancy disability leave requirements

Under California law, a woman who is disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions may take up to four months of pregnancy disability leave per pregnancy. Leave can be taken both before and after the birth of the child, as long as the woman is unable to work due to pregnancy or a related condition. For example, leave can be taken for prenatal appointments, postnatal appointments, severe morning sickness, medically required bed rest, the birth of the child, recovery from childbirth or pregnancy loss. All full-time and part-time employees are eligible for pregnancy disability leave.

Pregnancy disability leave and salary

Employers are allowed to require workers to use sick leave if they are out on unpaid pregnancy disability leave. However, employers cannot require workers to use vacation leave while out on pregnancy disability leave. Employers are required to pay for the continuation of health insurance if they normally carry these costs.

Returning after pregnancy disability leave

Workers out on pregnancy disability leave have the right to return to their position after they are done taking leave. Employees can ask for this guarantee in writing if they wish. However, employees may be placed in a position upon their return from pregnancy disability leave that is comparable in tasks, skills and pay, to their previous position. Unless there is an agreement otherwise, employees must be reinstated within two business days of their notice that they want to return to work.

Pregnant workers’ rights

Pregnant workers have rights under California law that go above and beyond those granted by federal law. It is important that both employees and employers understand their rights and obligations related to pregnancy disability leave so they can protect their interests if a dispute arises.