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Everything You Need to Know About Maternity Leave in California

If you are about to become a parent, now is a good time to learn your rights in regards to California maternity leave.  This can seem complicated, but it definitely doesn’t have to be.  California has some of the best family leave laws in the country.  Understanding your maternity leave rights will make your leave and time at home less stressful.

California’s maternity leave laws pertain to most employers. There are two programs; the first one is State Disability Insurance (SDI) and the second one is Paid Family Leave (PFL).  Most employers have to participate in State’s Disability Insurance (SDI) program.  This program covers employees who cannot work because of pregnancy and childbirth.  Pregnancy related illnesses are disabilities according to California law, so employees have a right to disability insurance payments during their leave.  The typical period of disability begins four weeks before birth and continues until six weeks after birth.

Paid Family Leave (PFL) is a component of the SDI program that gives partial pay of your wages for up to 6 weeks while you care for your newborn.  Weekly benefits range from $50 to a maximum of $1,173. Your weekly benefit amount is approximately 55 percent of your earnings up to a maximum weekly benefit amount. You can calculate your benefits on California’s EDD website. You can receive benefit payments under both programs and the benefits may run consecutively.  If an employee is covered by SDI, then they are also covered by Paid Family Leave. There are requirements that you must meet for Paid Family Leave, this fact sheet will provide more information about Paid Family Leave and the requirements.

California also grants leave rights under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Under this law, you can take up to 12 weeks of leave to bond with your child.  Requirements must be met in order to take advantage of this law.  For eligibility information, click here

The difference between Family Medical Leave Act and California Family Rights Act is that under the CFRA only post-partum time is covered.  For FMLA your time may begin during pregnancy if you are unable to work during your pregnancy.

With the laws in California, you should not be discriminated against for taking a leave of absence.  You have the right to return to your same or similar position after your maternity leave has ended with the same pay rate.

As you can see California has great laws in place for pregnancy and maternity leave that keeps employees protected.  Knowing your rights will make the transition to maternity leave a lot smoother.