Alphabet Soup

If you look to the right, you’ll see a string of acronyms that look like a bowl of alphabet soup. DOL, EDD, SHRM, NCHRA, etc. It wouldn’t be too bad if this were it, but you’re an HR professional in California and you know there’s quite a bit more to swallow, particularly when an employee tells you that she needs to take time off for pregnancy. FMLA, CFRA, PDL, PFL, SDI. Pregnancy in California can be incredibly complicated which can be enough to make anyone choke.

Looking for information on this subject brings one to many websites for law firms soliciting their services. They have some good information, I don’t really want to shill for them. And the best article I’ve found addressing the issue is on the Society for Human Resource Management website, but the article is for members only. It’s too bad since this really is the best article by far that helps me navigate the various leaves available. I’ve been searching and searching for something that comes even somewhat close to being as comprehensive, but I’m having no luck. Suffice to say, California employees who are pregnant have access to the following:

– Family Medical Leave (FMLA)

– Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)

– California Family Rights Leave (CFRA)

– California Fair Employment and Housing (CA-FEHA)

Cornelia Gamlem, SPHR (the author of the above referenced article) explains it all very well in her article “Pregnant in California:Which Family Leaves Apply?”

With respect to pregnancy and childbirth, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allows eligible employees up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth of a child, for the adoption of a child or for the placement of a child in foster care. It also allows leave to care for a seriously ill family member or for the employee’s own health condition, other than pregnancy-related disability. While the provisions of the CFRA are similar to FMLA with respect to the birth of a child or the placement of a child for adoption, an employee in California has no protection under this law for pregnancy-related disability. In other words, pregnancy is not covered or considered a serious health condition under the CFRA. The woman with the difficult pregnancy is not entitled to protected leave under this law. This leave can only be used by an employee following the birth of a child. However, disabilities related to pregnancy are covered under a separate law.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (CA-FEHA), the same state law that prohibits discrimination, provides protection for pregnancy-related disabilities. It allows employees disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition to take up to four months of protected leave. It does not provide for any time off for the birth or placement of a child in foster care or adoption. Thus, the woman with the difficult pregnancy is entitled to up to four months of disability leave (with the proper medical certification) and the employer cannot discriminate against her on the basis of the pregnancy or pregnancy-related disability. If the four-month leave under CA-FEHA is exhausted and additional disability leave is required by the employee’s health care provider, the employer may, but is not required to, grant leave under CFRA prior to the birth.

Mmm, I hope you’re hungry.