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Pregnancy Leave: Baby Bonding

What Are My Rights to Pregnancy Leave?

There are two principal statutes involved in determining a family’s rights with respect to pregnancy leave. The first of these is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). As it related to pregnancy, it applies only to women and gives a woman the right to take up to four (4) months of unpaid leave to receive treatment for pregnancy or conditions relating to pregnancy or childbirth. Basically, this is a type of medical leave, but for medical or other conditions relating to pregnancy.

In addition to California’s pregnancy disability leave rights under FEHA, employees in California have the right to take leave from work under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”). This leave is called “baby bonding” leave, which is time that a new mother (and a father) can take off from work to become bonded with his or her child. An employee does not have to suffer from any medical condition to qualify for this CFRA leave (unlike FEHA leave). Both the mother and father can take this leave concurrently even if they work for the same employer.

Not every employee is entitled to take leave under the CFRA. The law applies only to longer term employees of larger employers. Thus an employee must satisfy several criteria in order to have the right to take leave under CFRA. To receive leave under CFRA, the following criteria must be met:

•· Employer size. The employer must employ at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of the employee’s worksite.

•· Employment duration. The employee must have worked for their employer at least 1250 hours in the last 12 months.

Employees who qualify for this CFRA leave have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave in any given 12-month period.

FEHA and CFRA pregnancy leaves run are consecutively. Thus, a mother has the right to take 12 weeks of bonding time under CFRA. Additionally, if the mother’s health care provider certifies that she suffers from medical conditions relating to her pregnancy requiring leave, she is entitled to additional time, up to four months, to care for her conditions. The baby bonding leave under CFRA would begin to run only after the FEHA medical leave is completed. Therefore, a pregnant mother has the right to take as much as 7 months off from work on unpaid leave provided her doctor certifies her for the full 4 month leave under FEHA.

If your employer denies your request for leave, or terminates you while you are on pregnancy leave, please contact an experienced wrongful termination and pregnancy discrimination lawyer at The Law Offices of Daniel Feder.