Maternity and Paternity Leave Laws
Having a child is a momentous event. Many parents want time to bond with their new baby and adjust to their new family setting. Unfortunately, mothers and fathers often worry about job security and financial security while they are away from work. The good news is that there are state and federal laws in place to protect new parents.
It is important for expectant parents to know what their rights are regarding parental leave. Here, pregnancy discrimination attorney Gregory A. Thyberg provides an overview of maternity and paternity leave laws that apply to workers in Sacramento, CA, and across the state.
Am I Eligible for Parental Leave?
Sacramento workers may be eligible for parental leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Each of these bills requires that employers who employ 50 or more employees allow workers to take parental leave, or time off to bond with their child. While employees are on leave, their job must be held, so that they can return to their position at the end of their leave. The New Parents Leave Act (NPLA) provides the same rights to employees who work at a company with 20-49 employees.
Parental leave is available to both mothers and fathers. To qualify for maternity or paternity leave, employees must meet these requirements:
- Have worked for a covered employer for a minimum of 12 months
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months period prior to leave
How Much Time Off Do I Get for Parental Leave?
Both the FMLA and CFRA state that parents can take 12 weeks off during the first year of their child’s life, or during the first year that a foster or adopted child is placed within a parent’s care. These laws provide 12 weeks of leave to both mothers and fathers. The 12 weeks of leave are often taken consecutively, but with employer approval, new parents can take parental leave intermittently.
Pregnancy Disability Leave
Mothers and fathers are provided the same rights to parental leave, but new mothers may be due additional time off for pregnancy disability leave. In California, pregnant employees can typically take an additional 10-12 weeks of leave if they are unable to work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions.
The exact amount of time that a woman can take off varies based on their situation, but generally women are considered disabled four weeks prior to giving birth and another six weeks after giving birth (or eight weeks for a C-section). Any leave taken for pregnancy disability does not take away from the 12 weeks of leave allowed under the FMLA and CFRA.
Will I Be Paid During Parental Leave?
The FMLA and CFRA guarantee the right to unpaid leave, which means that employers are not required to pay their employees while they are off, though they must continue to provide benefits. While paid leave is not mandatory, employees can request (or employers can require) that accrued sick leave, vacation leave, or PTO is paid out during the leave.
Sacramento workers may also be able to collect pay from the state during their parental leave. California is one of the few states to offer a paid family leave program. The state will pay partial wages (typically 60 percent of a worker’s salary) for up to six weeks, so that new parents have time to bond with a child.
If you are a new parent or are expecting a child, pregnancy discrimination attorney Gregory A. Thyberg can help you understand your rights regarding parental leave and job protection. To learn more, send us a message online, or call (916) 204-9173 and schedule a personal consultation.