How Long is Maternity Leave in California? Timeframe Overview


Having a baby requires a lot of hassle, time, and resources, and in order to get comfortable with motherhood and juggling work, maternity leave plays a vital role.

How Long is Maternity Leave in California? 101 Comprehensive Guide

According to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), pregnant workers who meet the requirements may allow to take up to three months or 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave in California, and this leave may be taken at once or in segments with the employer’s consent.

Additionally, eligible female employees may be entitled to take up to 6 weeks of paid maternity leave through the state disability insurance program.

It’s important to note that these leave entitlements may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the employee and the employer, so it’s best to consult with a qualified employment law attorney for specific advice on your situation.

In this article, we will discuss how long is maternity leave in California and how an eligible employee can request it.

1. What is Maternity Leave?

Maternity or pregnancy leave is when a mother can take off from work before and after giving birth or adopting a new child. Maternity leave can be paid or unpaid, depending on the employer’s policies and the laws of the state or country where the mother works.

If it is unpaid, the mother can take the time she needs to recover from childbirth and bond with her new child without worrying about work obligations.

Pregnancy leave is meant to give mothers time to bond with their new child and recover from the physical demands of childbirth. It also allows mothers to continue breastfeeding their babies for a more extended period if they choose to do so.

In some countries, maternity leave is provided by law, and employers are required to offer it to eligible female employees. In other countries, pregnancy leave may be provided by employers voluntarily.

However, how long is maternity leave in California still a question? The length of pregnancy leave can vary depending on factors such as the employer’s policies and the mother’s circumstances. Sometimes, maternity leave may also be available to fathers or other primary caregivers.

2. Types of Maternity Leave

In general, however, maternity leave is intended to provide new mothers with the time and support they need to recover from childbirth and bond with their new child.

Before discussing how long maternity leave in California lasts and the pay provided, let’s know about the types of maternity leave. Here are the different forms of maternity leave that are available to new mothers:

2.1. Paid Maternity Leave

This leave provides pregnant employees with a portion of their regular salary while on leave.

The pay and the length of time it is provided can vary depending on the employer and the country. Many employers offer this type of leave, which is often mandated by law.

2.2. Unpaid Maternity Leave

Sometimes, a mother may be entitled to take time off work without pay to care for her newborn. This leave is often available to mothers who need more tenure with their employer to qualify for paid leave or are not covered by a paid leave policy.

Sometimes, the employer may allow the mother to use her vacation or sick time to cover some of the leave.

2.3. Temporary Disability Leave

This leave provides mothers with a portion of their salary while they cannot work due to pregnancy-related disabilities or childbirth complications.

If an employee is temporarily disabled for four months or 16 weeks due to pregnancy or childbirth, she may be entitled to up to seven months (28 weeks) of unpaid leave from her employer.

2.4. Parental Leave

Parental leave, also known as shared parental leave, allows parents to divide their leave between them and choose how they want to use it.

Parental leave is available to both mothers and fathers and allows new parents to take time off work to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. The length of time and amount of pay provided can vary depending on the employer and country.

2.5. Partial maternity leave

It occurs when a woman has the right to take time out of work to care for her newborn or attend prenatal care appointments.

When a woman can choose the specific dates and times when she will take leave within certain limits set by the employer. This leave is known as “flexible maternity” or “pregnancy leave.”

3. What is California Family Rights Act or CFRA leave?

Having a Baby in California: Understanding Your Leave Rights

How long is maternity leave in California? Under the CFRA, employees in California are permitted to take up to three months of unpaid pregnant leave to give birth to a child.

Additionally, pregnant employees in California may be entitled to additional leave under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) law. The law allows for a maximum of four months of leave for serious health conditions, childbirth, and pregnancy-related disabilities.

In addition, pregnant employees in California are also entitled to reasonable accommodations, such as breaks for bed rest, and modifications to their work duties or schedule, under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Under CFRA leave, employees must take a break while continuing to receive the same benefits and pay they would generally receive. 

Employees who need to take time off work due to pregnancy-related disabilities, childbirth, or baby bonding are given job-protected leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) laws.

After meeting the minimum eligibility requirements, employees can take up to three months or 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to develop an emotional attachment with a new kid, according to CFRA.

Workers who are temporarily unable to carry out their duties due to pregnancy-related disabilities are eligible for as much as four months of unpaid, job-protected leave under the Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) legislation.

Together, these laws allow employees in California to take up to 28 weeks of leave for reasons of pregnancy-related disability, childbirth, and parent-child bonding.

4. What is Reasonable Accommodation Leave (RAL)?

California Disability Laws: What Is "Reasonable" Accommodation?

In California, “reasonable accommodation leave” is time off work that an employer must provide to an employee with a disability so that the employee can receive medical treatment or make necessary adjustments to their workplace to perform essential job functions.

In California, workers who are protected by the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act may request a leave of absence for a reasonable accommodation.

The specific details of reasonable accommodation leave will vary depending on the laws and policies of the individual employer and jurisdiction. Although, how long is maternity leave in California depends on the employer and the company.

5. What is Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)?

Pregnancy disability leave is a type of leave that allows pregnant employees to take time off from work due to pregnancy-related disabilities. The Pregnancy Disability Leave benefits are generally protected by law, and employees are entitled to continue receiving their temporary disability pay and help during this time.

The specifics of pregnancy disability leave vary depending on the location and the applicable laws. For instance, how long maternity leave in California that a worker is entitled to may vary, as may the paid or unpaid nature of pregnant disability leave.

It’s essential for employees to understand their rights and for employers to provide the necessary accommodations to support their employees during this time.

Companies are required to give employees up to four months (16 weeks) of unpaid leave due to pregnancy or disabilities related to it under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave or PDL act.

The Pregnancy Disability Leave can be taken before or after the child’s birth and can be used in combination with other forms of leave, such as Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) and Paid Family Leave (PFL).

6. How Long is Maternity Leave in California?

CA Maternity Leave Explained by an Employment Lawyer

The CFRA and FMLA, which is the state and federal leave legislation in California, govern maternity leave.

This legislation grants employees the right to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected family leave for qualifying medical and family-related reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child. So, how long is maternity leave in California, and who qualifies for it?

Eligibility requirements for CFRA baby bonding leave, a pregnant employee must:

  • By 2021, the CFRA requires that companies with five or more employees offer protected leave to eligible employees.
  • Minimum one year as an employee
  • The employer worked at least 1,250 hours for a year before requesting maternity leave.

These conditions must be met for employees to be eligible for up to 12 weeks of pregnancy leave. The leave might be used entirely at once or in shorter bursts, like a week.

Employees have the right to return to the same or similar employment once their leave ends, and the company must continue providing their health insurance while on leave.

It’s important to note that in California, pregnancy leave is unpaid, although some employers may choose to offer paid maternity leave as a benefit.

During this time, the pregnant employee is entitled to continue receiving their full salary and benefits, up to a certain amount. Maternity leave in California is funded through a state disability insurance program called the California Paid Family Leave (PFL) program.

Paid Family Leave (PFL) enables workers to take leave from their jobs to take care of a sick family member or spend time with a new child while still receiving some compensation.

Employees are required to pay into this program through deductions from their paychecks, and they can then use the funds to cover their wages while on leave.

Additionally, employees may be able to use accrued paid time off, such as sick leave or vacation time, to cover some or all of their maternity leave. Employees should check with their employers to see what options are available to them.

Employees who take maternity leave are also entitled to return to their same or similar job with the same pay, benefits, and working conditions upon their return.

Employees need to give their employer advance notice of their intention to take pregnancy leave unless it is impossible due to a medical emergency.

Additionally, employers must inform workers in writing of their rights under the CFRA, including the right to maternity leave.

In addition to pregnancy leave, California has a state-wide paid family leave program that allows employees to receive partial wage replacement while on family leave. This program is funded through employee-paid payroll taxes, allowing employees to receive up to six weeks of benefits.

Moreover, the California Pregnancy Disability Leave law may also allow for an additional four months of leave for workers who cannot return to work after their 12 weeks off due to a pregnancy-related disability.

Overall, the CFRA provides essential protections for pregnant employees in California, ensuring how long is maternity leave in California. and the time to care for themselves and their newborns without fear of losing their jobs or other adverse consequences.

7. How to Request Parental Leave in California?

Maternity leave documentation pregnancy to child birth | how to apply for state disability insurance

People should be aware of how long is maternity leave in California and how to get it easily. In California, new parents have the right to take time off work to spend quality time with a new child or care for a critically ill child. This time off is called “parental leave” and is protected by state law.

You should confirm with your employer to see if they provide paid or unpaid parental leave before requesting maternity leave in California.

If your employer does offer parental leave, you should follow their specific procedures for asking for it. It may involve filling out a request form or submitting a written request to your supervisor.

To request parental leave, you should notify your employer at least 1 month before the start of your leave. You will need to provide your employer with proof of your relationship with the child, such as a birth certificate or adoption papers.

Your employer may also require you to provide a medical certification from a healthcare provider verifying the need for leave.

If your company does not provide parental leave, you may be eligible for unpaid leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). To request CFRA leave, you must meet all eligibility requirements and give written notice to the employer of your plan to take CFRA leave before you may seek it.

Your employer may require you to provide certain information, such as the expected start and end dates of your leave, the reason for your leave, and any other relevant information.

8. Can you Get Fired for Taking Maternity Leave in California?

In California, an employee cannot be fired by her company only because she is on maternity leave. Let’s say you have a mental or physical disability that prevents you from performing essential job functions.

Still, you can achieve those functions while on reasonable accommodation leave. If so, you might be covered by the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), both of which forbid discrimination against new parents based on disabilities.

By the FEHA, an employer is required to treat a worker who is pregnant, has taken maternity leave, or is currently on pregnancy disability leave the same way they would treat another worker who is temporarily disabled.

A reasonable accommodation must be provided for disabled employees unless doing so would put an unreasonable burden on the employer.

California’s anti-discrimination law, the “Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA),” prohibits discrimination in employment and housing and applies to business owners, landlords, and individuals who provide housing for at least five employees.

Under the FEHA, it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on their race, colour, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, mental disability, health condition, or genetic information.

9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

9.1. How Long is Maternity Leave in California?

Pregnant workers in California who fulfill all the eligibility requirements may take up to 12 weeks, or three months, of unpaid maternity, leave, per the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

With the employer’s approval, this leave may be taken in full or in small increments, such as one day at a time, as long as the employee’s employer agrees. After the kid is born, adopted, or placed in foster care, the maternity leave must be taken within a year.

9.2. Is Maternity Leave Paid in California?

Yes, California does pay for maternity leave. California offers pregnant workers up to four months of paid leave through the California Paid Family Leave (PFL) program.

This program provides partial income replacement to employees who must leave their jobs to bond with a new child, care for a critically ill family member, or cater to specific military family needs.

9.3. During Maternity Leave in California, What Happens to the Job?

Under California law, your employer must hold your job open while you are on maternity leave.

This means that you are entitled to the same or a comparable post upon your return, with the same compensation, perks, and working circumstances as before your vacation.

10. Conclusion: How Long is Maternity Leave in California

It’s crucial to comprehend your legal rights and obligations if you’re an employee in California and preparing to take paternal leave.

You should discuss your plans with your employer and provide them with the required notice and documentation to support your leave. Additionally, relevant documents and proofs must be presented for your eligibility.

Overall, California’s maternity leave plan is a valuable perk that enables mothers to take time off work to give birth and care for their newborn child.

By understanding the rules and eligibility requirements of the law, you can ensure that you receive the leave you are entitled to and can focus on your family during this critical time.

Hopefully, you now have a good understanding of how long is maternity leave in California.

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