California employers should be aware that new regulations regarding pregnancy will take effect on December 30, 2012. Under California law, employers with five or more employees are required to provide up to four months of unpaid leave to women who must take time off from work because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related illness. The pregnancy disability regulations significantly change state law and provide employers with more detailed guidance in managing the leave process in the following ways:
Changing the definition of the four months of maximum leave that employees are entitled to mean the number of days the employee would normally work within four calendar months (one-third of a year equaling 17 and one-third weeks), if the leave is taken continuously, following the date the pregnancy disability leave commences. If an employee's schedule varies from month to month, a monthly average of the hours worked over the four months prior to the beginning of the leave shall be used for calculating the employee's normal work;
Expanding the definition of the term disabled by pregnancy to include time off for things such as postnatal care; bed rest; gestational diabetes; pregnancy-induced hypertension; preeclampsia, post-partum depression; childbirth; loss or end of pregnancy; or recovery from childbirth, loss or end of pregnancy;
Clarifying the employer's obligations to provide a reasonable accommodation or transfer when a woman is affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions (which includes lactation-related medical conditions such as mastitis and lactation related accommodations, such as a private place to express milk);
Changing the requirement that employers must notify an employee in writing of any medical certification requirement each time a certification is required and provide the employee with a form entitled Certification of Health Care Provider for Pregnancy Disability Leave, Transfer and/or Reasonable Accommodation for the employee's health care provider to complete;
Clarifying that there is no eligibility requirement to be entitled to pregnancy disability leave such as the minimum hours worked or length of service, before an employee may be eligible for reasonable accommodation, transfer or disability leave;
Expanding legal protections for pregnant women to make it unlawful to discriminate or harass an employee or applicant based on perceived pregnancy; and
Changing workplace notices to provide additional information to employees regarding their rights and responsibilities regarding pregnancy disability leave and the California Family Rights Act.
Advice for Employers
In light of these new regulations, California employers should review and revise their employee handbooks and leave policies and practices to reflect the new regulations. Employers should also display updated workplace posters and notices to be viewed by all employees in accordance with these new regulations. It is also wise to implement training to advise supervisors and managers regarding compliance with these new requirements.
California employers should also be aware that there are pending disability (non-pregnancy leave) regulations. Employers should continue to watch out for any changes in this area.
Employee Management > EEO - Discrimination: California
Employee Management > Disabilities (ADA): California
Employee Leaves > FMLA: California
Employee Leaves > Other Leaves: California
Prevent Pregnancy Discrimination