Pregnancy Disability Leave Requirements & Eligibility

Instructor: Rachel Shipley

Rachel has worked with several businesses developing policies on customer experience and administration.

In this lesson, we will specifically discuss Pregnancy Disability Leave in the state of California. We will go into detail about who can take it, for how long, if they receive compensation, insurance coverage and job protection.


Your employee, Susan, is going to have a baby. What an exciting time! It can also be a stressful time for her as well. Figuring out what the company offers in cases of pregnancy can be confusing, especially with all the added stress she already has trying to prepare to become a parent. As her employer, it's important that you know all the laws about her rights and to carry them out!

Pregnancy Disability Leave entails certain rights entitled to pregnant employees. It was put into place to prevent employers from discriminating against women who are preparing for or have given childbirth and have been technically disabled in the process. Let's talk about some of the nitty gritty details that the state of California Pregnancy Disability Leave includes.

Pregnancy Leave

There are many components to the Pregnancy Disability Leave in California. Let's break them down and talk about them individually.


The word 'disabled' can sound odd when referring to a pregnant woman, but it just refers to her being 'unable' to work normally. So, what counts for Susan to be eligible for leave?

  1. Prenatal or postnatal care that requires time off
  2. Morning sickness
  3. Bed rest by order of a doctor
  4. Childbirth recovery
  5. A loss or termination of a pregnancy
  6. Any other medical issue that's related to pregnancy

You don't need to be a doctor. You don't need to determine what a related medical condition is, or if you think Susan doesn't need to be on bed rest and is actually milking the system. As an employer, your role is simply to abide by the necessary laws and request Susan submit the necessary paperwork to Human Resources.

Upon the advice of her medical care provider, Susan can make what's considered 'reasonable accommodations' and you must comply. If she asks to be moved somewhere less taxing or dangerous, or to reduce her duties to those appropriate for her ability, you have to accommodate.

Length of Leave

Susan can take up to four months of leave. Remember that pregnancy is considered a disability under these provisions, so if you allow more than four months leave for any other type of temporary disability, you have to provide the same amount of time for pregnancy and childbirth.

Furthermore, Susan can take leave both before or after giving birth if she is physically not able to work. However, no matter when she takes it or for what reason, it all will be counted toward the four month period allotted to her.

Also important to know is that Susan may take her four month pregnancy leave in addition to the leave entitlement that she might be approved for under the CFRA (California Family Rights Act). The CFRA entitles Susan to 12 weeks of leave that can be used to bond with her newly born baby. This also applies to employees who adopt a child, or need to take care of a parent, spouse or child who becomes very ill. The CFRA also entitles an employee to use this 12 weeks if they themselves come down with a major health condition.


You have the option to require Susan to use accrued sick leave during any unpaid portion of the pregnancy disability, but that's the only accrued time you can require. If she chooses, she has the right to use accrued vacation, or other accrued time off to receive compensation while out on leave, but she doesn't have to and you can't require it. If Susan does not have any sick leave built up, and chooses to not use her vacation leave, this type of leave is unpaid.

Insurance Coverage

Sometimes company insurance packages include coverage for employees that take any type of temporary disability leave. If this is the case in your company, that coverage must also be provided to Susan. If this sounds familiar, it's because we used this same stipulation above with general disability leave. Just remember: when it comes to disability, employers need to provide equal accommodations.

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