Every person is unique and so is their pregnancy. Some pregancies are more difficult than others. While pregnant, many women are diagnosed with a pregnancy-related disability, such as pregnancy-induced hypertension, morning sickness, or gestational diabetes. Women who are suffering from these conditions will often need to take time off from work to avoid further complications.
Do pregnant women have the right to take a disability leave?
The short answer, yes. Pregnant women in California who work for an employer with five or more employees are legally entitled to a pregnancy disability leave (PDL). Thus, every employee who meets this criterion is entitled to up to four months of leave per pregnancy. Note, that it does not matter how long you worked for the employer before getting pregnant. And you don't have to take this leave of absence all at once, you can split up the four months throughout the pregnancy if needed.
How should you request disability leave?
In an ideal world, it would be best to provide your employer a 30-day notice. But it is not always possible in emergency situations where your health or the health of your baby are at risk. If you fall in this situation, your employer cannot retaliate against you simply because you could not provide a 30-day notice. Your employer might ask you to provide medical proof of your disability and this is normal. Your doctor should be able to provide a doctor's note.
Is your employer required to pay you while you are on disability leave?
Your employer is required to provide you with PDL, but they are not required to pay you while you are on PDL. However, if your employer offers paid leave to other temporarily disabled workers, they must pay you while you are on PDL. You also have the option of using some or all of your sick time. And your employer cannot tell you to use your vacation time. And remember, your employer cannot cut off your health insurance or exclude you from retirement or pension plans while you are on PDL.
After you return from your pregnancy disability leave, you should resume working in the position you held prior to leaving. And if for some reason, there has been in a change in positions, the new position must be comparable to the position you held before. The laws are established in a way to ensure that your employer cannot discriminate against pregnant employees. If you have been terminated because of your pregnancy or pregnancy related leave, seek an experienced employment law attorney immediately.