What can pregnant employees expect for leave and return?

When a California employee is pregnant, she might have a vague understanding of her rights under the law when it comes to duties at work, time off and other issues. It is important to note, however, that state law is specific about what pregnant employees can expect when it comes to receiving salary and benefits during pregnancy leave as well as what their return rights are. Employment disputes frequently arise because of pregnancy. Knowing these rights under the law can potentially keep employers from taking liberties against pregnant employees and provide a guideline to seeking compensation if there is a violation.

A woman who is pregnant will receive leave from her employer if the employer provides employment benefits such as health insurance for employees who take leave for temporary disabilities. Therefore, if a woman takes time off due to the pregnancy, the birth of the child or related medical conditions, she should receive coverage from the employer. The employer is allowed to have the employee use sick time that has accrued during an unpaid part of the pregnancy disability leave. The employee also has the right to use vacation time to be compensated while out because of the pregnancy. The employer is not allowed to require that the employee use vacation time or other time off that has accrued while on pregnancy leave.

For return rights, employees who were on leave or disability because of pregnancy have the right to return to the same position as before and can this can be requested in writing. If the same position that the woman had before she went on leave is not available due to, for example, layoffs or a closure, the employer is required to offer a comparable position. Comparable relates to wages, where the job is located, benefits, content of the job, opportunities to be promoted and working conditions. If the employer can prove that there is no comparable position, then the return rights could be in question.

A common worry among pregnant women is whether or not they can take the necessary time off to deal with the issues related to it without fear of losing the job. They might also be concerned about their rights to return to the same job. When there is a violation of this law, a woman must realize that she can seek compensation for this employment-related issue with help from an qualified lawyer.

Source: dfeh.ca.gov, “Pregnancy Leave — Salary and Benefits During Leave; Return Rights,” accessed on July 4, 2016

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