Being pregnant is one of the most joyous events in a women’s life, but not all pregnancies are easy. Many times pregnancies come with complications and symptoms that make it difficult for woman to function normally during the day, including working. Different types of pregnancy disabilities that woman get diagnosed with are severe morning sickness, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension. Women who are suffering from these conditions are entitled to disability leaves to avoid further complications with their pregnancies. Below are pregnant women’s rights to taking disability leave prior to maternity leave.
A Pregnant Employee’s Right to Disability Leave
California employers with more than 5 employees are entitled to provide pregnant women with up to four months of disability leave in the event they suffer from a pregnancy disability. There is no time requirement for a woman to have worked a company before being entitled to a pregnancy leave. The four months of leave can be split up throughout the pregnancy, if the woman chooses.
Depending on how generous the employer’s leave policy, some women may be qualified for even longer disability leaves than four months. For example, if an employer’s disability leave policy allows for up to six months of leave, then the employer must allow a pregnant employee that much time, even though the law only requires up to four months of leave.
If an employer’s policy allows for anything less than four months, the employer still must comply with the law anyways and allow pregnant employees up to four months off.
How Do I Request Disability Leave?
As soon as you are aware of your pregnancy disability, you should inform your employer and provide them with a doctor’s note if possible. However, in emergency situations where the woman’s health or the health of her baby are at risk, it is not necessary to provide your employer with adequate notice. In emergency cases, employers cannot retaliate against you for not providing advance notice.
Many times employers will ask employees to provide a doctor’s note requesting disability leave on behalf of the employee. This is a normal request, and you should obtain a doctor’s note authorizing your disability leave and provide it to your employer.
After informing your employer about your leave, your employer should provide you with the same position at the same pay when you return from your disability leave.
What Should I Expect While on Disability Leave?
Even though employers are required to provide pregnant women with four months of disability leave, they are not required to pay them during that time. However, if employers offer paid leave to other temporarily disabled workers, then the employer must pay pregnant women on disability leave as well. Pregnant women also have the option of using some or all of their sick time so in order to be compensated during a portion of their disability leave. Employers can can also require pregnant women to use their sick time for their disability leave; however, they cannot require them to use their vacation time.
Even though employers are not required to pay pregnant women on disability leave, they still are required to provide them with the same benefits they receive when they are actively working, including health insurance benefits, retirement benefits, and pension plans.
What Happens When I Return to Work After Disability Leave?
California law protects pregnant women who take disability leave. Generally, employers should place pregnant employees returning from leave back in their original position. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. (1) The law allows for an employer to move employees to other positions after they return from disability, as long as the new position is comparable to the position the employee previously held. For example, if the employer laid off employees in the same department that a pregnant employee on disability worked in, then they could reassign her to a comparable position in another department when she returns to work.
If an employer states that it was impossible to return a pregnant employee back to her original position or move her to another comparable position, the employer has to be able to prove that there are no comparable positions available to place the pregnant employee in when she returns. Therefore, an employer has to show there were no positions that the employee qualified to work for that were open when she was released to return to work, or within 60 days of this date, in order for the employer to avoid legal trouble.
The employee must let the employer know when her return to work date is. An employer has two business days to prepare for an employees return once they have been notified by the employee of their return to work date.
These laws were established to ensure that employers cannot discriminate against pregnant employees. Do you feel like you have or are being discriminated against in the workplace because of your pregnancy? If so, seek legal representation from an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible. Shegerian Conniff LLP specializes in helping pregnant women who are being discriminated against in the workplace and seeking just compensation for these injustices. Contact us today by calling 1-310-322-7500.