California Pregnancy Disability Leave

What is pregnancy leave?

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! (Or, maybe someone you know is, and you’re reading this to help them.)

Pregnancy is an exciting but also a difficult time in many ways, especially for the women who are expecting. Pregnancy and childbirth can sometimes exacerbate existing medical conditions, or even cause entirely new and unexpected ones to appear. I can make things that used to be simple and easy a difficult or even dangerous process. This is especially true for women who are involved in work that might cause some danger to them or their baby.

Fortunately, that’s where pregnancy leave comes into play. Like other forms of medical leave or disability leave, pregnancy disability leave is a program that provides pregnant people with some financial benefits while they are pregnant and can no longer fulfill their normal work duties safely.

Since pregnancy can qualify as a temporary form of disability, especially in the later months, systems are in place in California and other locations to help those who might experience a loss in income during part of their pregnancy.

How can I apply for pregnancy disability leave?

Parental leave isn’t quite the same as sick leave, but the application process is similar. It requires medical approval from a doctor stating that you shouldn’t be working during the pregnancy; this statement ensures fair employment and treatment throughout the pregnancy, childbirth, and bonding time with the child.

The disability application process should begin as soon as your medical provider asserts that you should no longer be working due to your pregnancy, that your normal job requirements would no longer be safe while you are pregnant, or when they certify that you need to limit your hours of work due to a pregnancy-related disability.

You will want to speak with your healthcare professional (who must be a licensed professional) about your normal work duties and make sure that they are aware of anything that could impact your health or your baby’s health during pregnancy; you can ask them specifically if you think you might qualify for pregnancy disability leave or that you will need it.

Your healthcare advisor should be able to provide you with the certifications you need and point you in the right direction to start your application so that you can begin receiving benefits.

What are the benefits of pregnancy leave for California employees?

California pregnancy disability leave benefits normally cover the 4 weeks before your expected delivery and the 6 to 8 weeks directly afterward, as you recover. However, some cases will be different, with longer periods of time possible for this coverage. It all depends on many factors, such as where you work, what you do there, your health and the baby’s condition, any pre-existing risk factors, and your medical professional’s advice.

For those who would not safely be able to work in their normal jobs before that 4-week period begins, benefits may start earlier; on the other hand, for those experiencing medical complications after the delivery, benefits may extend after the typical recovery period. 

Does California offer maternity leave?

Yes, California law offers eligible pregnant employees maternity leave, though not under that specific name. California’s Paid Family Leave is parental bonding leave for a new child (among other events, such as caring for a seriously ill family member). Paid Family Leave is different from pregnancy disability leave—it is there to give you some time to take care of and bond with your newborn(s).

Suppose you apply for it and your application is accepted. In that case, Paid Family Leave provides paid leave for up to 8 weeks, with the payments offering from 60 to 70 percent of your pre-leave income with the last 5 to 18 months; this leave won’t fully cover your wages, but it can be much better than nothing when you need to take some additional time off from work.

If you have been receiving pregnancy disability leave benefits, you should receive information about applying for Paid Family Leave once your last check for disability pay has arrived. Whether you automatically get that information or not, this second kind of leave can begin once your period of recovery ends, and your healthcare professional says that your pregnancy-related disability will no longer impede your work. 

Unfortunately, Paid Family Leave does not automatically provide job protection from pregnancy discrimination, meaning that some employers will not be obligated to offer you back your job once your leave is over.

To prevent wrongful termination, make sure that you know what the rules are with your employer beforehand. Also, you can see if your job might be protected under other California laws, such as the Family Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act as job-protected leave (or CFRA leave). Female employees might also consider seeing if they qualify for state disability insurance related to childbirth.

How can Trajector help me?

Like many legal and financial fields, navigating the complexity of disability benefits, including pregnancy disability leave and other temporary conditions, can be a daunting task, especially for those of us with little or no background in those areas of expertise. Misunderstandings, loopholes, and simple mistakes can mean that those who should qualify for benefits will not always receive them as easily as they should. What can be done if you end up in this kind of situation? Fortunately, there are professionals ready to offer their assistance.

Trajector is a company dedicated to helping people receive the disability benefits they qualify for, whether those benefits come from government or private entities.  Trajector helps their clients navigate this complexity to help them receive the necessary benefits. 

If you aren’t sure where to begin with your journey to receive your disability benefits, or if you are already in the midst of that journey and are looking for professional support, consider getting in touch with Trajector today to see how they can help you.

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