Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) is a provision of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) that allows
take up to four months of protected time off because of pregnancy-related
medical conditions. PDL is an important
right for pregnant women in all kinds of industries and professions. If you need to exercise the
right to take job-protected leave with PDL, you should understand the
law and ensure that your entitlements are fully secure.
Employer Requirements for PDL
In California, an employer who has five or more employees is required by
law to give employees the right to PDL. In addition, pregnancy is protected against
unlawful discriminationfrom an employer, especially for employment privileges, conditions, and
compensation. While on PDL, the employee has specific protections and
guarantees that are protected under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
Options Available While on Leave
There are several key factors to know about PDL:
- You may take longer than 4 months of leave if employer policy provides more
- You may take “intermittent” PDL broken up into hours, days,
weeks, or months
- You are entitled to continued health benefits while on leave
- You are entitled to wage replacement with State Disability Insurance (SDI)
- You have the right to return to the same position after PDL
- You cannot be penalized or discriminated against for requesting PDL
Requests for PDL must be given in verbal or written notice to an employer.
The request should include the reason for taking leave and how long the
leave is planned to be. An employer cannot force you to take PDL as long
as you are able to perform the vital functions of your job.
You are able to use sick days and/or vacation days during pregnancy disability
leave, but your employer cannot require you to use this paid leave while
on PDL—it is up to you, the employee, to decide. Some employers
may require medical certification as part of requesting PDL.
Temporary Transfers & Accommodations
While on PDL, you are eligible for temporary transfers and restrictions
of duty if you meet certain conditions.
There are three essential requisites:
- Your employer has 5 or more employees
- Your employer’s health care provider recommends the transfer/accommodation
- Your request is considered “reasonable” in the situation
“Reasonable” is a flexible term—moving to a less strenuous
positions, taking longer breaks, working from home, and other job duty
modifications may all be considered reasonable requests in many situations.
Along with rights and protections for pregnancy leave and PDL, the CFRA
also has provisions for time off to bond with a new child. If you’re
covered, you may take up to 12 weeks off each year for unpaid job-protected
leave to bond with your newborn, adopted, or foster child.
You may be eligible for bonding leave under CFRA with the following:
- You have worked for your employer for at least one year
- Your employer has at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius of the worksite
- You have worked at least 1,250 hours in 12 months leading up to taking leave
This leave must be completed within 12 months of birth, adoption, or fostering
of the child. This may also be used to care for a loved one who has a
serious health condition not related to pregnancy (spouses, parents, partners,
etc.). Bonding leave may be taken in addition to PDL.
Are Your Rights Being Violated?
The law is very clear on the rights and privileges of employees, but it
still takes the competence and willingness of your employer to correctly
enact the PDL procedure. Employers make mistakes, and unfortunately, employers
sometimes take advantage of or unlawfully discriminate against their employees.