California passed a handful of revisions to the Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) law which both added new provisions and clarified the existing law. These changes became effective on December 30, 2012. Since this law applies to California employers with five (5) or more employees, most employers will need to take note of these changes to ensure their continued compliance.
The following is a highlight of the key changes to the PDL law. Employers need to be aware that this is not a comprehensive list. The full text of the proposed PDL law changes can be found here. Employers will need to work closely with their leave compliance administrator and/or employment law attorney to ensure their policies and notices are in full compliance.
1. Revised Poster Requirement
The revised notices must be posted at the work site in a conspicuous place, and a template must be sent to an employee soon after the employee gives notice of a need for a pregnancy related leave or accommodation.
Notice A (employers with fewer than 50 employees)
Notice B (employers with 50 employees or more)
2. PDL Entitlement Calculation
Previously, the leave entitlement was calculated as a four-month leave. This has been clarified to 17 1/3 weeks multiplied by each employee's normal work schedule prior to the leave.
3. New Definition of Health Care Provider
The list of Health Care Providers has been expanded to include marriage/family therapist, acupuncturist and other providers as defined under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
4. Expanded Re-employment Rights
If an employer cannot return the employee on PDL to a comparable position (i.e. position has been eliminated), then the employer must continue to provide the employee with notice when a comparable position is open. The employer must continue to provide this notice for 60 days from the employee's scheduled reinstatement date. The employer must notify the employee in person, by letter, phone or email of the job opening.
5. Definition of Disabled by Pregnancy Expanded
The definition of pregnancy disabilities now includes postnatal care, bed rest, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, postpartum depression, loss or end of pregnancy, or lactation-related medical complications (mastitis).
6. Reasonable Accommodations
Employers are required to determine if an employee's accommodation request is reasonable on a case-by-case basis. An accommodation may include modifying work practices or policies, modifying work duties, modifying work schedules, permitting more frequent breaks, providing furniture, or providing break time and use of a room for breast-feeding that is close to the employee's work area.
California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires that employers with five (5) or more employees grant an employee disabled by pregnancy with a reasonable period of time for an unpaid disability leave. Employers are required to (1) maintain the female employee's health coverage under the group health plan for the duration of the leave and (2) allow the employee to return to work in the same position. The employer has the right to recover the premiums paid from the employee.
If you have any questions on these recent changes, please contact i2i benefits at 650-363-7237. Our services include offering employers comprehensive consulting resources on their HR compliance needs.