Being pregnant should be a joyful and happy occasion. Unfortunately, many women are met with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace instead. Discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions is prohibited by law. Employers must grant pregnant employees unpaid disability leave of up to four months for the time they are disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Government Code §12945(b)(2). It is also unlawful to refuse to grant requests for temporary transfer or reasonable accommodation to pregnant employees. Government Code §12945(b).

California law differs from the FMLA in the way pregnancy is treated. Under the FMLA, pregnant employees receive a maximum of 12 weeks of leave for time off needed before, during, and after the birth of the child. California law, however, provides time off under CFRA and for pregnancy disability leave that runs separately from FMLA leave and can amount to as much as seven months. Government Code §12945.2(s); 2 Cal. Code Regs. §7291.13.

Female employees disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions are entitled to up to four months of leave. Government Code §12945(b)(2). Pregnancy disability leave is available regardless of how long the employee has been employed, and it applies to any employer with five or more employees. Government Code §12926(d); 2 Cal. Code Regs. §7291.2(h).

A woman is only entitled to the actual amount of time off she needs due to an actual disability which renders her unable to perform her job. Most women will not be entitled to the full four months unless they have a medically-complicated pregnancy. Pregnant employees are also entitled to transfer temporarily to a less strenuous or less hazardous position for the duration of the pregnancy, on the advice of a physician, if the transfer can be reasonably accommodated. Government Code §12945(a)(3).

In addition to the four-month disability leave, employees qualifying for CFRA leave may also take an additional twelve weeks of family leave following the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child for “baby bonding.” Pregnancy disability leave does not run concurrently with CFRA or FMLA leave, although CFRA and FMLA leave generally do run concurrently with one another. Government Code §12945.2(s).

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