Understanding Employment Law and Maternity Leave in California

By Gregory Thyberg on April 16, 2019


A mother looking at her babyCalifornia employment law offers certain protections and benefits to workers throughout the state when faced with certain medical situations, including childbirth. California has many different laws for maternity leave, giving families different benefits, which sometimes includes job protection, when welcoming a new baby or adopting a child.

At Thyberg Law, attorney Gregory Thyberg helps clients understand employment law and maternity leave in California. If you live in or around Sacramento, CA and would like more information about employment law and maternity leave, we welcome you to schedule a consultation.

How Much Time Is Given for Maternity Leave?

Many individual employers offer paid maternity leave with the amount of paid leave varying based on the employer. Regardless of an employer voluntarily providing paid leave, most employed women in Sacramento and the rest of the state can take up to six weeks of maternity leave in accordance with California's employment laws.

The State of California's Employment and Development Department (EDD) provides detailed explanations of how each law applies to maternity leave, including length of time off, job protections, and pay. Let's take a closer look at these laws.

Paid Family Leave

Paid Family Leave (PFL) is available to new mothers and fathers, providing new parents partial paid time off from work.

PFL allows eligible pregnant women to receive up to four weeks of Disability Insurance (DI) before her expected due date, six weeks of DI after a normal delivery, and eight weeks of DI in the event of a Cesarean section.

Although PFL provides women paid maternity leave from work, it does not offer job protection. However, other California employment laws do offer job protection for women on maternity leave and may apply where PFL does not.

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides job protection when taking maternity or other family-related medical reasons for eligible employees under covered employers.

Eligible employees may take up to 12 work weeks of leave within a year after the birth of a child. These 12 weeks come with guaranteed job protection, however, they are unpaid.

California Family Rights Act

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is a state law that is very similar to the FMLA. The CFRA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks off of work to bond with a new baby.

Like the FMLA, the CFRA provides eligible employees job protection during their time off. Also similar to the FMLA, time off is unpaid under the CFRA.

New Parent Leave Act

The New Parent Leave Act (PLA) covers more employees than the FMLA and CFRA, which typically apply to those who work for larger companies and have worked a certain amount of hours for over a year with the same employer.

Those who work for small employers with 20 or more employees and may not have qualified for FMLA or CFRA benefits, may be eligible for similar protections under the NPLA.

With the NPLA, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond and care for a newborn and recover from childbirth. As with the FMLA and CFRA, the employee's job is protected during this time.

California Laws Protect Women from Being Fired for Taking Maternity Leave

Under the FMLA, CFRA, and NPLA, a woman cannot be fired for taking maternity leave. However, a woman may be laid off or fired for a misconduct committed prior to leave if the lay off or firing has nothing to do with her maternity leave.

When a woman is fired while on maternity leave, it's important to seek the help of an employment law attorney. An employment law attorney can help determine if the termination was in violation of California laws and if so, can help hold at-fault employers responsible for breaking employment laws.

Contact Thyberg Law

If you were fired while on maternity leave, you are encouraged to schedule a consultation with Sacramento attorney Gregory Thyberg at (916) 204-9173 so that he can review the details of your case and help you move forward.

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