California recently passed new regulations interpreting, clarifying, and expanding employer duties and employee rights under the state’s California Pregnancy Disability Leave law (PDL). The new regulations were approved on November 30 with little fanfare and are effective December 30, 2012, providing very little notice to employers to bring their practices into compliance.
Reed Group is well-informed about these new regulations, and has updated the California PDL chapter in Leave of Absence Advisor®.
THE NEW PDL REGULATIONS
The new PDL regulations provide the following notable changes or clarifications (among many others):
- “Four months”. The leave entitlement of “four months” of PDL leave, not previously defined, has been clarified to mean 17-1/3 (17.33) weeks. If taken as intermittent or reduced schedule leave, the employee’s entitlement is based on the employee’s average schedule during the four months prior to commencement of leave (693.2 hours of PDL based on a 40 hour work week).
- Pregnancy disability leave. The definition of “disabled by pregnancy” (which entitles the employee to pregnancy disability leave) has been broadened and now includes several specific examples, such as severe morning sickness, pre- or postnatal care, bed rest, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, post-partum depression, and recovery from childbirth or loss or end of pregnancy. This list is illustrative only.
- Accommodation or transfer. The regulations clarify the employer’s obligation to provide the employee with a reasonable workplace accommodation or a transfer because of a “condition related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” The definition of the foregoing phrase has been expanded, and now specifically includes lactation and mastitis among many other conditions. A reasonable accommodation may include a lactation accommodation.
- Rerinstatement. Following PDL leave or a transfer, the employee must be reinstated to the same position or one “virtually identical” to the one she left for leave or a transfer.
- Health insurance. The employer must maintain the employee’s health care coverage during PDL leave and CFRA leave, for a possible total of seven months.
- PDL frequency. Four months of PDL is available per pregnancy, not per year.
- Health care provider. The definition of health care provider has been expanded and now includes such providers as marriage and family therapists or acupuncturists, as well as the more traditional medical providers.
- Medical certification form. The employer must provide notice to the employee each time a certification will be required to support the employee’s request for leave, accommodation, or transfer. The DFEH has a new proposed certification form that supports all such requests.
- Updated notice forms. The regulations include new required Notices A and B to be provided to employees, advising them of their rights under PDL. As before, employers must distribute these notices to employees upon knowledge of a pregnancy or a PDL request, and must post the information in the workplace and include it in employee handbooks.
- Nondiscrimination protections have been expanded to prohibit discrimination on the basis of “perceived pregnancy.”
The new PDL regulations are quite extensive and complex, and impose many requirements on employers. Employers should review the regulations thoroughly with appropriate expert guidance and determine necessary actions for compliance. The full text of the regulations can be found here. For assistance in complying with the new California PDL regulations, or to discuss how Reed Group can help your company maintain regulatory compliance with all states’ leave of absence laws, contact Reed Group at 866.218.4650.