How Long is Pregnancy Disability Leave in California?

how long is pregnancy disability leave in california

Pregnancy is a transformative journey for any expecting parent, but it can also bring about various challenges, especially when it comes to balancing work and health. In California, the law recognizes the unique needs of pregnant employees through Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). In this guide, we’ll delve into the crucial aspects of PDL, addressing questions about its duration, eligibility, associated benefits, and the steps involved in requesting it.

Understanding Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL): The Basics

California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) is a crucial protection offered to a pregnant employee, ensuring they can take time off work for medical reasons related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related complications. This leave is distinct from other family leave programs and is designed to address specific needs associated with pregnancy-related disabilities.

How Long is Pregnancy Disability Leave in California?

One of the foremost questions on the minds of expectant parents in California is, “How long is Pregnancy Disability Leave?” California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave allows eligible employees to take up to four months of job-protected leave. This leave is specifically designed to accommodate the physical and medical needs of pregnant individuals during pregnancy-related disabilities.

Eligibility for PDL in California

To avail of Pregnancy Disability Leave in California, it’s essential to understand the eligibility criteria. The California Pregnancy Disability Leave applies to:

  1. Employer Size: PDL applies to employers with five or more employees.

  2. Employee Eligibility: Any eligible employee facing a pregnancy-related disability is entitled to PDL.

  3. Covered Conditions: PDL covers disabilities related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, and other complications.

  4. Job Protection: Eligible employees are entitled to job-protected leave for up to four months during their disability related with pregnancy.

  5. Notification: Employees should notify their employers about their intent to take PDL and comply with company policies regarding leave requests.

Who is Entitled to PDL?

Any eligible employee facing a pregnancy-related disability is entitled to take Pregnancy Disability Leave. This includes conditions such as severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and other complications directly related to pregnancy. Employers are legally required to provide Pregnancy Disability Leave to eligible employees, ensuring they receive the necessary time off for their health and well-being.

Accrued Vacation Time or Sick Time

A common concern for many employees is whether Pregnancy Disability Leave is paid. PDL itself is generally unpaid; however, employees can utilize their accrued vacation time, sick leave, or other paid time off during their leave to continue receiving income. Understanding your employer’s policies regarding the use of accrued paid time is crucial for managing finances during this period.

Aside from Pregnancy Disability Leave, there are additional legal protections in place for pregnant employees in California. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides eligible employees with up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for various family-related reasons, including the birth of a child. Understanding these complementary laws can help you navigate your rights comprehensively during the exciting but challenging period of becoming a parent.

Paid Pregnancy Disability Benefits

In California, the state recognizes the importance of supporting expectant parents through its Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, offering partial wage replacement benefits during Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). Here’s what you need to know about accessing paid pregnancy disability benefits in California:

  1. Foundation of Unpaid PDL: Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) in California is the groundwork for job protection during pregnancy, though it’s generally unpaid.

  2. PFL Financial Assistance: Paid Family Leave (PFL) offers partial wage replacement benefits, providing financial support for eligible employees up to eight weeks.

  3. Eligibility Criteria for PFL: To qualify for PFL benefits, employees need a minimum of $300 in wages with State Disability Insurance deductions during their base period, specifically for pregnancy-related disabilities.

  4. Streamlined Claim Process: Accessing PFL benefits involves filing a claim with the California Employment Development Department, requiring details on the disability, expected due date, and relevant medical certifications.

  5. Concurrent PDL and PFL: PDL and PFL can run simultaneously, extending job-protected leave and financial assistance for a more comprehensive support system.

  6. Employer Notification Requirement: Employees intending to use PFL benefits must give employers timely notice, typically 30 days in advance for foreseeable leaves, ensuring a smoother transition.

  7. Reasonable Accommodation: If you require adjustments to your work environment or duties due to your pregnancy, your employer is legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodation, ensuring your well-being during this crucial time.

PDL and FMLA Leave Runs Concurrently?

For employees eligible for both Pregnancy Disability Leave and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the leaves may run concurrently. This means that the twelve weeks of FMLA leave may overlap with the four months of Pregnancy Disability Leave, providing an extended period of job-protected leave for eligible employees.

How Do I Request PDL?

Embarking on the journey of parenthood brings joy, but it’s crucial to navigate the workplace aspects, especially when it comes to Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) in California. If you find yourself in need of PDL, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you request and navigate this crucial leave effectively:

  1. Assess Eligibility: Confirm your eligibility by ensuring you’re employed by an entity with five or more employees and facing a pregnancy-related disability.

  2. Early Notification: Notify your employer promptly about your intent to take PDL. Clearly communicate the anticipated start date and the expected duration of your leave.

  3. Medical Certification: Secure a written medical certification from your healthcare provider. This should outline the nature of your pregnancy-related disability, expected duration, and any pertinent details.

  4. Discuss Paid Time Off: Engage in a discussion with your employer regarding the utilization of accrued paid time off, such as vacation days or sick leave, to maintain financial stability during your PDL.

  5. Formal Written Request: Alongside verbal communication, submit a formal written request for PDL to your employer. This document should include the start date, expected duration, and any supporting medical documentation.

  6. Collaborate with HR: Work closely with your company’s Human Resources department to ensure all procedures are followed correctly. They can guide you through company-specific policies and provide valuable support.

How an Attorney Can Assist You with Pregnancy Disability Leave

Engaging the services of an experienced employment attorney can be immensely beneficial when dealing with Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) matters in California. An attorney specializing in employment law can provide invaluable assistance in various aspects, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you navigate the complexities of the legal system effectively. Here are several ways in which an attorney can be instrumental in supporting you:

  1. Clarifying Legal Entitlements: Attorneys have specialized knowledge in California employment laws, ensuring you understand your rights and entitlements under Pregnancy Disability Leave.

  2. Eligibility Assessment: Attorneys can assess your eligibility for Pregnancy Disability Leave based on your medical condition and circumstances.

  3. Navigating Employer Policies: Assistance in understanding and navigating your employer’s specific policies related to leave, ensuring compliance with procedures.

  4. Negotiating Accommodations: Advocacy for reasonable accommodations, such as modified work duties, to meet your health needs during Pregnancy Disability Leave.

  5. Addressing Discrimination: Protection against pregnancy discrimination, including filing complaints or legal actions if discriminatory practices occur.

  6. Interplay with Other Laws: Understanding the interaction between Pregnancy Disability Leave and other laws like FMLA, CFRA, and FEHA.

  7. Protection Against Retaliation: Shielding you from any adverse actions taken by your employer in response to your Pregnancy Disability Leave request.

  8. Litigation Support: Providing support in legal proceedings if disputes escalate, ensuring your rights are protected and seeking compensation for damages.

how long is pregnancy disability leave in california

Seek Guidance on Pregnancy Disability Leave with BLG

Navigating the intricacies of Pregnancy Disability Leave in California requires a clear understanding of your rights, eligibility, and the legal framework in place. As an expectant parent, it’s essential to be aware of the duration of PDL, your eligibility, and the various options available to ensure a seamless and supported transition into parenthood. By being informed and proactive, you can make the most of the legal protections in place and focus on the well-being of both yourself and your growing family.

If you have further questions or concerns, consulting with a legal professional specializing in employment law can provide personalized guidance based on your unique situation. Remember, your well-being matters, and California law is here to support you during this transformative journey.

Embarking on the journey of pregnancy disability leave can be complex, and having the right legal guidance is crucial. At BLG, our experienced team is dedicated to supporting you through every step of the process.

Contact us today for a free consultation.


How long can you take pregnancy disability leave in California?

Pregnancy disability leave in California typically lasts up to four months (or 17.33 weeks) per pregnancy, as long as it is medically necessary.

How much disability will I get for pregnancy in California?

The amount of disability benefits during pregnancy in California depends on various factors, such as income and work history. The state disability insurance (SDI) program provides partial wage replacement, and the amount is determined based on your earnings.

How do I extend my pregnancy disability in California?

To extend pregnancy disability leave in California, you may need to provide medical documentation supporting the continued need for leave. Discuss the extension with your employer and follow the necessary procedures outlined by your company’s policies and California employment laws.

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