Whether you are already expecting a baby or you are in the process of starting a family, it’s important to understand how much maternity leave you are entitled to as an employee in the state of California. The good news is, California’s employment laws offer more leave to pregnant women than most other states in the U.S. Mothers who want or need to spend more time caring for and bonding with a newborn have that option.
Length of Maternity Leave in California
The most time an expectant mother can take away from work is seven months, as long as she has been employed for at least 12 months. This means she can combine the maximum benefits from two distinct employment laws:
- Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL): 4 months, or 17-1/3 weeks
- California Family Rights Act (CFRA): 3 months
For Employment Less than 12 Months
Expectant mothers who have been employed for less than 12 months are eligible for the PDL allocation; however, they may not be qualified for the CFRA. In this case, the maximum amount of maternity leave allowed in California is four months.
How You Can Use Maternity Leave in California
While the most common time to use maternity leave is after the baby is born, there are some circumstances where an employee may be able to use the time for prenatal or pregnancy-related care. For more information, you should read the Pregnancy Leave pamphlet supplied by the State of California’s Department of Fair Employment & Housing. The laws described in the pamphlet will help you better plan your time away from work.
What if my employer isn’t providing me with maternity leave at all, or isn’t giving me the full length of time allowable?
It may be good to speak with an employment lawyer based in California about your situation. The Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) in San Diego provides referrals to employment attorneys, who will then provide you with up to 30 minutes of free consultation time to figure out what you are entitled to as an expectant mother.