California Family Rights Act Forms Summary for CFRA DFEH 186
Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), pregnant women are afforded a number of protections, including protections against discrimination concerning compensation, working conditions or privileges of employment.
Pregnant women and new mothers also have several entitlements under the FEHA and any benefits under the law must be posted by covered employers in a place where employees congregate.
Requirements Under the FEHA
An employee found to be disabled due to pregnancy is permitted up to four months of unpaid, job-protected leave under the Act. If the employer has a leave system that allows workers to take more than four months off because of a medical condition, the same amount of leave time needs to be extended to women incapacitated by childbirth, pregnancy or a related condition.
A woman looking to take pregnancy disability leave under the FEHA can do so before or after her child is born, provided she is unable to work due to her condition. This includes prenatal or postnatal care, intense morning sickness, prescribed bed rest and loss or end of pregnancy. All leave taken for a specific pregnancy is counted against the four-month allotment provided by the FEHA.
The law also allows for reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. These accommodations must be made based on the recommendation of a doctor and can include the transfer to a less stressful or dangerous position.
Female employees can also take FEHA pregnancy disability leave in addition to any unpaid leave taken under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). For instance, an employee could take four months off due to pregnancy complications and childbirth, and then take 12 weeks under the CFRA to bond with the baby.
The employee needs to give at least 30 days notice and provide the estimated length of leave time. If 30 days of notice is not possible due to a sudden medical situation, the female employee must remember to give notice as soon as possible. The employee can modify the leave as her medical situation changes.
If the actual date of job reinstatement differs from the one given or if a date was never given, the employer should reinstate the female employee within two business days of the notice to return to work. If two days would cause an undue hardship, then the employee should be reinstated as soon as possible.
Handling Salary and Benefits Issues During FEHA Leave
If an employer provides health insurance benefits for an employee who take leave for other qualified disabilities, the employer must also extend coverage to a female worker who takes leave due to pregnancy-related issues.
An employer can mandate that their employees use any accrued sick time concurrently with their FEHA leave. The employer cannot mandate the employee's use of vacation time. However, the employee can apply their vacation leave pay to receive compensation while away on leave.
Protections for Returning to Work
After the end of the leave or job transfer, an employee is guaranteed the right to return to their original job. If that job is not available due to layoff, downsizing or a plant closing, the employer must supply a position that is equal in terms of compensation, location, working conditions and opportunities; unless no such position exists.
Submitting an Official Complaint
Those who feel their rights under the FEHA have been violated should contact California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. It can be reached by calling (800) 884-1684 or by scheduling an appointment online at www.dfeh.ca.gov. Those filing a complaint should be prepared to give facts related to the alleged violation or denial of leave.
Anyone filing a complaint should maintain records that support their claims, including any paycheck stubs or correspondences.