Pregnancy Disability Leave FAQs

What are my employment rights if I am or become pregnant?
  • If your employer has five or more employees, you are entitled to rights and protections under California state law in the event of pregnancy, childbirth, loss of pregnancy, and related physical and mental conditions. These rights and protections include the right to reasonable accommodations and the right to time off from work. It is illegal for employers to fire, refuse to hire, bar, harass, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against someone because of their pregnancy, childbirth, or related condition. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11035).
  • An employer covered by these rules can be, but is not limited to, one or more individuals, partnerships, corporations, companies, labor organizations, apprentice training programs, employment agencies, or licensing boards. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12925; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11035(e)).
What is a pregnancy disability?
  • A pregnancy disability is a physical or mental condition related to pregnancy or childbirth that prevents you from performing essential duties of your job, or if your job would cause undue risk to you or your pregnancy’s successful completion. Your health care provider should determine whether or not you have a pregnancy disability. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11035(d) & (f)).
  • Examples of pregnancy disability may include, but are not limited to: severe morning sickness, prenatal or postnatal care, need for bed rest, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, post-partum depression, lactation conditions such as mastitis, loss or end of pregnancy, and recovery from loss or end of pregnancy. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 11035(f)).
What if I have restrictions due to my pregnancy?

You may be entitled to accommodations if you have a pregnancy disability. Accommodations are changes to the work environment that allow you to perform your job. Examples of changes or accommodations are:

  • Modified work duties to be less strenuous. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, §§ 11040 & 11035(s)(2)).
  • Use of a stool or chair while performing work duties. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, §§ 11040 & 11035(s)(4)).
  • Temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous job offered by your employer. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11041).
  • Longer or more frequent breaks. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11035(s)(5)).
  • Private lactation accommodations. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11035(s)(5)).
  • Pregnancy Disability Leave (“PDL”). (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11042.
  • Additional leave as a reasonable accommodation at the end of PDL.

Whether you are entitled to any particular accommodation will depend upon the circumstances of your pregnancy-related disability and your workplace.

What is Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)?

Pregnancy Disability Leave, or PDL, is leave from work to accommodate employees with a pregnancy disability. Your health care provider will recommend how long you need to take leave from work, but you are entitled to up to four months of PDL per pregnancy. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11042). This leave is in addition to any other leave for which you may be eligible under the provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, California Medical Leave Act, other state laws and local ordinances, your employer’s leave policies. If your employer has a policy of providing more than four months of leave for other disabilities, then your employer must also provide you with the same leave, if required by your pregnancy-related disability.

Am I eligible for PDL?

If your employer employs five or more employees and you have a pregnancy disability, you are eligible for PDL. There is no minimum requirement for number of hours or years worked to be eligible. Your health care provider should recommend PDL in order to apply for it. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, §§ 11035(h) & 11037).

Do I have to take my PDL all at once?
  • No. You may take your PDL all at once or “intermittently.” Intermittent PDL is taking leave in small increments, which can be hours, days, weeks or months. This could mean taking a few hours off every day, or taking a few days or weeks off at a time. See PDL CALCULATION at the end of this FAQ. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11042(a)).
  • EXAMPLES: Working 4 hours per day instead of 8. Working 4 days per week instead of 5. Starting work later in the day 5 days per week. Taking 2 weeks off at a time. Taking 4 months off at once.
How do I request PDL?

If you think you may have to take time off from work for your pregnancy-related disability, inform your employer as soon as possible. If possible, give your employer 30 days’ notice. Your employer must give you a written guarantee that you will be reinstated to your same job after PDL, if you request it. Your employer may require that you provide a written medical certification from your health care provider substantiating your need for leave. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, §§ 11050(a)-(b) & 11042(c)).

Will I lose my job if I take PDL?

It is illegal for your employer to fire you because you are pregnant or because you are taking PDL. However, PDL does not protect you from employment actions not related to your pregnancy, such as layoffs. Employers are otherwise required by law to reinstate you to the same job you had before taking leave. In some situations, you may be reinstated to a position that is comparable (same tasks, skills, benefits, and pay) to the job you had before taking PDL. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11043).

If I am transferred as part of pregnancy disability accommodation, will I be transferred back to my original job?

Yes. Your employer is required to reinstate you to your original job after you are no longer disabled by pregnancy. In some situations, you may be reinstated to a comparable job (same tasks, skills, benefits, and pay). (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11041(d)).

Will I be paid if I take PDL?

Maybe. If your employer pays employees for other temporary disability leave, then your employer must pay you for your PDL. You will be paid if you use paid vacation or paid time off during your PDL. You may also collect partial wage replacement if you pay into State Disability Insurance (SDI). (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11044(a)). You may also be eligible for paid leave through other state laws or local ordinances, such as Paid Family Leave Benefits.

http://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/Am_I_Eligible_for_PFL_Benefits.htm

Will PDL count for sick or vacation time?

Your employer may require you to use available sick leave during PDL. If your employer does not require you to use available sick leave during PDL, you may use it at your discretion. Your employer may not require you to use vacation or paid time off. You may use vacation or paid time off at your discretion during PDL. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11044(b)).

Will I continue to be covered by my employer’s group health coverage during PDL?

Yes. Your employer is required to pay for the continuation of your group health coverage (if you are covered by your employer) for all four months of your PDL. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11044(c)).

Will I lose seniority or benefits if I take PDL?

No. You will not lose seniority or benefits while taking PDL. If your employer allows employees to accrue seniority and/or benefits while on other temporary disability leave or during sick or vacation leave, then you will continue to accrue seniority and/or benefits while on PDL. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11044(d)-(e)).

What if I am still experiencing a pregnancy disability after my four months of PDL are up?

If you have completed your four months of PDL, you may be eligible for leave under CFRA and you are still entitled to “reasonable accommodation” under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, which may include additional time off from work (see information about “CFRA” below). (Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 12945, 12945.5; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, §§ 11040, 11047, 11087(o) & 11093(e)).

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Reasonable accommodation is a change in the work environment or the way a job is done in order to accommodate your pregnancy disability while still performing the essential functions of your job. This can include taking more leave from work. Talk to your health care provider and your employer about necessary reasonable accommodations. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, §§ 11035(s) & 11046(c)(2)).

What accommodations am I entitled to for lactation?
  • You are entitled to breaks while at work in order to lactate or express milk in private. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11035(s)(5)).
  • You may be entitled to PDL for lactation-related medical conditions (such as mastitis). Ask your doctor if you need time off work for a lactation-related medical condition. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11035(d) & (u)).
Am I entitled to leave to bond with my new child?

Yes. After you take PDL, you are entitled to 12 additional weeks within 12 months of birth, adoption, or beginning of foster care, to bond with your new child under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”). Both parents of the child are entitled to bonding leave. CFRA leave may be limited to 12 weeks total for both parents if both parents work at the same company. However, CRFA has different requirements than PDL. CFRA leave may also be taken to care for a sick family member. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11087(h), (m), & (o)).

What are the CFRA requirements?

In order to take bonding leave under CFRA, you must have worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months, and the employer must have at least 50 employees who work within a 75-mile radius of your workplace location. See chart below for more CFRA information. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11087(e)).

Am I entitled to any leave in addition to PDL and CFRA bonding leave?

Maybe. The FEHA is clear that PDL operates in addition to other provisions of the Act. You therefore may be entitled to leave as a reasonable accommodation, even beyond what the PDL requires. You may also be entitled to leave under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Both parents are entitled to FMLA leave. See chart below for more FMLA information. The DFEH does not enforce FMLA because it is a federal Act under the jurisdiction of the United States government. Please visit https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/ for more information. Additionally, you may be entitled to leave under FMLA to care for a family member. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11045). Finally, you may be entitled to leave under local ordinances. The chart below sets forth only the benefits afforded for pregnancy leave.

What if I qualify for PDL, CFRA, and FMLA?
  • You are entitled to take leave under each PDL, CFRA, and FMLA, if you qualify. PDL and FMLA may run at the same time. CFRA will be counted separately from PDL. CFRA will also be counted separately from FMLA taken for pregnancy disability, childbirth, or related medical conditions. PDL and FMLA run at the same time because both cover pregnancy-related medical conditions. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945.2(s)).
  • You will receive an additional 12 weeks of bonding leave under CFRA if you qualify.
I’m transgender and I have a pregnancy disability. Am I eligible for PDL and other reasonable accommodations?

Yes. Transgender employees who have pregnancy disabilities are entitled to all the same rights and accommodations afforded any other employee with pregnancy related conditions. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11035(f)-(g)).

Can I be fired or otherwise punished for taking PDL or reasonable accommodation?

No. It is illegal for an employer to terminate, punish, refuse to hire, harass, or discriminate against you for taking PDL or reasonable accommodation for your pregnancy-related condition. (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, §§ 11036 & 11039).

Can my employer require me to take PDL?
  • No. Your employer may not force you to take PDL. Even if you choose not to take PDL, you are still entitled to reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy-related condition. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11039(a)(1)(H)).
  • EXAMPLE: Your physician recommends that you spend less time than your normal 40 hours per week at work during your pregnancy. If you are able to complete essential functions of your job from home, you may request telework for one day per week as a reasonable accommodation in order to save your PDL for after childbirth. Your employer is required to grant you this reasonable accommodation and may not require you to use PDL instead of telework.
I think my rights to PDL and/or reasonable accommodation have been violated. What do I do?

If you think your rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within one year of the date of violation. Visit www.dfeh.ca.gov or call 1 (800) 884-1684 (voice) or email contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, please call (800) 884-1684 (through California’s Relay Service by dialing 711) or (800) 700-2320 (TTY) or email contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov. You may also be able to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

What do I do if I still have questions?
How do I calculate my pregnancy disability leave?

PDL calculations

Your four months of PDL are calculated based on how many hours you work per week. For this calculation, four months equals 17⅓ weeks. Take the average number of hours you work per week and multiply that number by 17⅓. That will give you the number of hours of leave you are entitled to in your “four months” of PDL. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11042(a)).

# of hours worked per week x 17-1/3 = # of hours of PDL

Quick Reference chart

# of hours worked per week # of hours of Pregnancy Disability Leave
12 208
20 346.5
28 485
32 554.5
40 693
48 832
PDL, CFRA, and FMLA Requirements and Obligations