California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL) provides many protections to employees who are disabled by pregnancy. An employer that employs at least 5 individuals is required to provide up to 4 months of leave to an employee who is unable to work because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. In addition to requiring employers to provide a leave of absence to employees who are unable to work, the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition if the employee’s health care provider advises that an accommodation is necessary. In some circumstances, the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law requires employers to temporarily transfer a pregnant employee to a less strenuous or hazardous position for the duration of the pregnancy as a reasonable accommodation.

California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law covers most workers in California. Unlike many of the other leave laws, the PDLL covers part time workers and coverage begins immediately. This means that if an employee becomes disabled by pregnancy soon after they are hired, their employer is obligated to reasonably accommodate them or allow them to take a leave of absence. The primary requirement to be covered by this law is that the employer have at least 5 employees.

Pregnancy in and of itself is not a disability. However, under the law, a person is disabled if, in the opinion of her health care provider, she is unable to perform one or more of her essential job functions, or unable to perform her job functions without undue risk to herself, the successful completion of her pregnancy, or other persons. Some common examples of a disability due to pregnancy include: a woman suffering from severe morning sickness, a woman who needs time off for prenatal care, or a woman who needs to recover from childbirth.
After a pregnancy disability leave or transfer under the PDLL, employees are guaranteed the right to return to the same position. If the employee’s position is no longer available for reasons unrelated to the pregnancy or leave of absence, the employer must offer a position that is comparable in terms of pay, location, job content, and promotional opportunities, unless the employer can prove that no comparable position exists.
Though leave under the PDLL is unpaid, an employee may be eligible for partial wage reimbursement by applying for Short Term Disability through California’s Employment Development Department (EDD). In addition, employers need to maintain the employee’s health insurance at the same level they would maintain it if the employee did not take leave.

Employers are prohibited from taking any adverse action against an employee because the employee has taken leave under the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law. Examples of illegal, adverse actions include termination, demotion, or a transfer to a less desirable position or location.


Am I eligible for pregnancy disability leave if I’ve worked for my employer for less than a year?
Yes! If there are at least 5 employees working at your company, then you are eligible for pregnancy disability as soon as you begin your employment.
Your employer can require you to use your accrued sick leave while you are on a leave of absence for a pregnancy related disability. It is your choice whether or not to use your accrued vacation leave while you are taking leave under the PDLL.

It is always a good idea to obtain a doctor’s note if you need reasonable accommodations or time off work because of a disability. The law requires you to provide a medical certification only if your employer asks for one.


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