When women are pregnant, they have the full protection of the state for both the pregnancy and maternity leave. California classifies a pregnancy as a medical short-term disability so, in the workplace, everything is ruled by doctor’s notes. Ask for doctor’s notes whenever the employee needs “an accommodation” for time off due to the pregnancy, such as morning sickness.

When the delivery date nears, make sure the employee knows she cannot stop working until her doctor has certified she needs to stop working and you’ve got a doctor’s note to back that up. If she leaves before that, it’s a resignation and may disqualify her from the state’s supplemental pay programs like short-term disability and paid family leave.

If you have 5 or more employees (counting you), you are subject to California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave law and must allow the employee up to 4 months of unpaid time off… and have her job waiting for her upon her return to work.

Sadly, the person who isn’t medically disabled by birth (the father) has fewer options. If you have 50 or more employees, he could request baby bonding unpaid time off under FMLA or CFRA. Otherwise, he only has sick leave available or you can allow unpaid time off.

The laws are very clear when it comes to the woman’s rights during pregnancy and after. However, men are requesting unpaid time off when the baby is born much more frequently. Consider what you want for your company now rather than waiting for someone to ask.


About Your Columnist

CJ Westrick is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers all things human resources and managing people in the workplace. CJ Westrick, SPHR, has been in human resources (HR) management for over 20 years and has maintained her SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) national certification since 2002. She started HR Jungle, a human resources consulting firm, in 2006 to provide senior-level HR expertise to businesses without internal HR.


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