Employers historically have not been eager to assist women in their roles as employee and mother. In fact, before 1974, many companies fired women if they became pregnant or imposed mandatory maternity leave. As women have taken on more responsibility and gained more respect in the workplace throughout the years, employers have become more flexible and supportive of pregnancy. The Pregnancy Disability Leave Act ensures proper accommodations are made for women during their pregnancy and after childbirth, and secures their position until they return to work.
The Pregnancy Disability Leave Act is a California law that requires any company with at least five employees to provide up to four months of unpaid disability leave to women because of pregnancy, childbirth or a related illness. It also requires employers to transfer workers who qualify under this act to a less-strenuous or less-hazardous position, if applicable. The only excuse a company has to deny making these reasonable accommodations is if it can prove that such accommodations will put a strain or burden on the organization.
Women who qualify for pregnancy disability leave (PDL) can take up to four months of unpaid leave. This can be used in addition to 12 weeks that are provided by the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) but will run concurrently with federal unpaid leave provided by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Pregnancy disability leave can be taken all at one time or in small increments if recommended by a health care provider.The Pregnancy Disability Leave Act applies to women who are employed either full or part time and who have been employed for any length of time.
Women who qualify for and take advantage of pregnancy disability leave in conjunction with the 12 weeks of family leave that is provided by the federal government have the opportunity to spend seven continual months bonding with their newborn after childbirth. This also provides additional time many women need to make the challenging transition and acclimate to motherhood. Also, women can use pregnancy disability leave if their doctor orders bed rest, for prenatal appointments and in the case of severe morning sickness.
Women requesting pregnancy disability leave may be asked by their employer to provide medical proof of their disability. Also, during pregnancy disability leave, benefits provided by an employer may be discontinued while on leave, such as health insurance. When possible, employers must be notified 30 days prior to starting leave, unless there is a medical emergency that prevents advance notice. Notice given to an employer should outline the date leave is to begin, the amount of time needed off of work and an explanation of the disability.
While pregnancy disability leave is typically unpaid, there are circumstances in which it can be paid upon request or by substituting vacation or sick leave. In addition, during an unpaid portion of pregnancy disability leave, a woman may be eligible for temporary disability payments under a short-term or supplemental disability plan. Also, pregnancy disability leave benefits are not limited to women who are married and must be provided to all women in an organization.
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