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Julie, a California employee, is having complications with her pregnancy. We placed Julie on a four-month state Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL), running concurrently to FMLA for the first 12 weeks. Julie had her baby two days before her PDL expired. How much more time can she have off work? What docudoes not seem very reasonable. What should be my next steps as the medical leave and accommodation coordinator in my organization?
Julie is eligible for CA PDL – up to 17 1/3 weeks of leave for pregnancy related medical issues.
FMLA will run concurrently to PDL. It is important you designate the PDL/FMLA leave formally with written notification. Once PDL has exhausted, the employee is eligible to take CFRA Baby Bonding (BB) Leave (Note: FMLA will exhaust after 12 weeks, PDL exhausts after 17 1/3 weeks. For the first 12 weeks they run concurrently). If you consistently require all employees to provide documentation regarding adoption and foster care child responsibility start dates, you can also require confirmation of the employees’ delivery date. The medical provider should confirm Julie’s recovery time. The typical pregnancy will require 6 weeks of recovery time, however rely on the medical providers notification regarding the time each woman needs based on her personal situation.
Once the baby is born, and PDL is exhausted, if Julie requires additional leave as a result of a medical disability (related to the pregnancy or not), Julie may be eligible for additional leave under the ADA (& FEHA in CA), If she has a disability and additionally leave is not an undue hardship. However, Julie is also eligible for leave under CFRA Baby Bonding, and CFRA BB maintains her health care benefits while protection under ADA does not. An employee may take CFRA BB once PDL/FMLA has expired whether she is eligible for ADA protection or not. And note, if Julie was eligible for FMLA during PDL, she does not need to requalify for CFRA BB. One of the primary benefits of choosing to use CFRA BB for Julie is to maintain the integrity of her continued health care coverage. ADA does not protect health care benefits.
Make sure you explain this to Julie so she can make the choice that best fits her needs, choosing ADA protection due to a disability or CFRA BB because she wants to keep her health care. And certainly, if your organization determines it is an undue hardship to provide leave as an accommodation under the ADA, make sure you are providing the employee the opportunity to take the leave under CFRA BB. This is a complex area of compliance – check out our Skill Building Deep Dive Trainings for help.
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