maternity leave California

California Maternity Leave: Everything Expectant Parents Need to Know

Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

California Family Rights Act: Employees can take up to 12 weeks of parental leave following the birth or adoption. Paid Family Leave (PFL) is a California program that allows you to receive part of your pay while you are away from work and bonding with your baby. If you are pregnant and have a disability that affects your ability to give birth, you might be eligible for benefits from the Disability Insurance (DI).

Maternity Leave in California

How many weeks can I take paid maternity leave?

Your employer might offer paid maternity leave. This is why you should make sure to check your employee handbook. Employers may offer paid leave but most employees can still receive up to eight weeks per year of benefits at partial pay, starting from six weeks in 2020. Additional four weeks of unpaid time may be available.

What amount will I get paid?

Your employer is allowed and encouraged to cover your entire salary and benefits. It is possible for your employer to pay all of your salary and benefits, but this is rare. You will still get some income from your employer, even if they don’t offer paid time off (or it’s very low), during your maternity leave. For up to eight weeks, individuals who earn less that one-third the average quarterly state wage ($5,998.57) will receive approximately 70% of their weekly wages. For up to eight weeks, those who earn more than one third of the average quarterly wage ($5,998.57) in the state will receive approximately 60% of their weekly wages. This is an increase from the previous weekly salary of 55%.

Also, more families should be able to take paid leave if they have a higher salary.

However, the maximum amount of reimbursement is limited to $1,357 per workweek. This means that if you are a high-earner, you might receive a lower percentage.

Do I have any guarantee that I will get a job upon my return?

The 2018 state’s Parent Leave Act, (PLA), expanded the CFRA’s coverage to include smaller businesses. If you have been employed by your employer for at most 12 months, have worked at minimum 1,250 hours in the last 12 months, and work for an employer with at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius of your workplace or 50 employees elsewhere in California, it will protect your job while you are on maternity leave. The Small Business Association reports that more than 80 percent of Californian employees are covered by either PLA/CFRA.

When can I take my leave while I’m still pregnant?

You can’t use PFL while you are pregnant. If you have medical conditions that restrict your ability to work or your doctor certifies that you are not able to work because of your pregnancy, you may be eligible for paid Disability Insurance benefits. These benefits usually kick in approximately four weeks before your due day and can last up to six weeks depending on how you deliver. However, this is only for normal pregnancies. You may be eligible to receive the PFL benefit sooner if you have pregnancy-related medical issues.

Do I have to take my leave at once?

It’s not possible. California law allows you to use DI intermittently for hours, days or weeks. This is useful if you have to be treated multiple times for a condition during pregnancy. You can also break up your PFL leave. You and your spouse may decide to split the leave. Maybe you will take four weeks and he will take four. Then you’ll switch sides. The CFRA states that even though such an arrangement may be disruptive for your employer you are still allowed to do it.

Can I use only part of the benefit or is it all or nothing?

You can still use part of the benefit if you need to return to work after your full leave ends. If you are unable to afford 60 to 70% of your PFL pay, you might consider using this benefit. You can keep the rest of your leave in reserve if you decide to return to work after you have used all your leave. This is as long as you take your benefits within 12 months of your baby’s birth or your adoption/fostercare placement. This could be useful for another purpose such as when a family member is critically ill or you have to take part in a qualifying military event.

Can my spouse get parental leave?

Absolutely, the law applies to both men and women for straight and mixed-sex families. Many families choose to let one parent go on leave first and then have the second parent return to work. You’ll both get eight weeks of paid vacation, even if you work for the same company.

What happens if I adopt, foster, or use a surrogate to help me?

California will pay a portion of your salary for any addition to your family via adoption, surrogacy, foster parenting, or pregnancy. All you need is the appropriate documentation (birth certificate or adoption papers).

Does it cover anything besides welcoming a new child?

CFRA provides bonding time with a child when they are born, but also covers care for someone close to you, such as parents, spouses, or domestic partners. The benefit does not cover grandparents, parents-in-law and grandchildren. The new, more comprehensive PLA does not cover caring for children. If you work for a smaller company, your job protection may not apply to caring for other family members.

You are not covered by PFL if you become ill, but you might be eligible to file a claim for DI. While DI is not available for as long as PFL, you will still receive approximately 60-70 percent of your weekly wages, up to a maximum amount of $1,357 per workweek.

Can I combine this with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or any short-term disability benefits I may be entitled to?

You must simultaneously take your FMLA leave and PFL leave if you’re also eligible for FMLA, which offers up to 12 weeks unpaid leave. Let’s say that you have taken eight weeks of paid leave in California. If you are eligible for federal leave, you can take four more unpaid FMLA weeks.

If my company pays for some portion of leave, does the state law cover the rest up to 100 percent of my salary?

Lisa Pierson Weinberger, an employment lawyer in California, says that you cannot get more than 100% of your salary. Your employer can arrange benefits with the state’s Employment Development Department. The EDD will pay you the California law-compliant partial salary, while your employer can pay the difference between your full salary or the Paid Family Leave benefit. However, your employer is not legally required to pay this amount. Your PFL benefits will not be covered if they don’t pay the difference.

You should note that although you are receiving PFL your job is not covered unless you work for an employer who is covered under other California laws or FMLA.

Is the leave pay taxed?

PFL benefits can be reported to the IRS (the Federal Government), but not to California (the California State Franchise Tax Board). DI benefits cannot be reported to the IRS and the California State Franchise Tax Board unless they are used to replace Unemployment Insurance (UI). Your benefits could be reported to the IRS if you were receiving UI benefits while you were unemployed.

What do I have to do to get the money and by when? How am I paid?

You can start a claim for PFL as soon as you have welcomed your child. You will need to prove that you are eligible. Usually, you’ll upload birth certificates or adoption papers. Your benefits are usually issued within two weeks after your filing.

Are there any monetary caps on the benefit annually or during one’s lifetime?

Yes. For eight weeks, the maximum weekly amount that you can receive under PFL is $13,357 After a year, however, you can begin again.

The law allows you to take time off if you have many children or need to leave for a long period of time. There is no limit on the number of times you can take PFL and how much you can get reimbursed. You must wait 52 weeks after you take all of the leave you took for the year to get another leave. For example, if eight weeks of leave were taken beginning January 3, then you won’t be eligible to take another leave until January 3.

Do I still receive my benefits while I’m out?

For sure! You can still accrue seniority and benefits under PFL or CFRA if your employer allows you to accumulate for other relief. Continue to receive health insurance benefits while on leave. You won’t be eligible for unemployment insurance or workers compensation benefits.

How is this paid for?

PFL is funded by a deduction taken from your paycheck. The deduction is not optional. You will have to pay for it for the rest of your life. However, your non-parent friends cannot say that they won’t contribute. When you turn the benefit over to you, the money will be there. It works in a similar way to property taxes. Even though your children might not attend public school, or you may not have children, you still need to contribute to the school system.

What amount will each paycheck be deducted? If you earn $50,000 annually, your annual contribution will be approximately $600 or $11.54 per workweek.

If I have further questions, where can I go?

Your company’s Human Resources department is the best place to begin. The employee handbook can be a great resource if you aren’t ready to inform your employer about the new addition. California has a website that answers specific questions about CFRA, PFL or PDL, and PLA.

How does California’s paid leave compare to other states?

California is not the only state that allows parents to both earn a paycheck and bond with their baby.

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