Starting at the beginning of the new year, all California employers will be required by law to allow employees to take five days off after suffering a “reproductive loss” without fear of losing their job or other retaliation or any kind of discrimination.
Reproductive loss leave can be used for:
- Failed adoption
- Failed surrogacy
- Unsuccessful reproductive technology procedure
The leave needs to be taken within three months of the loss. It’s available to both people who would have been parents.
Reproductive loss leave doesn’t have to be paid. However, the law allows employees “to use certain other leave balances otherwise available to the employee, including accrued and available paid sick leave.”
Many California businesses already allow employees to take some time off – particularly if they’ve suffered a miscarriage. However, it currently isn’t required.
New law provides an added leave option for Californians
California employees already benefit from federal and state family leave laws. Further, California has pregnancy disability leave (PDL), which requires employers to allow workers to take as long as four months off during and/or after their pregnancy (although not that of a spouse or partner). State law also mandates that employers offer bereavement leave.
All of these types of leave can be unpaid. None of them, however, specifically address reproductive loss. It’s not one of the events that qualifies an employee for bereavement leave.
Reproductive loss is more common than many people believe
Reproductive loss is something that affects a significant part of the population at one point or another in their lives. It’s been estimated that some 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. However, even learning that an adoption you were planning and preparing for fell through at the last minute can leave prospective parents with a sense of grief and loss. This new law simply recognizes that and gives people a chance to take a few days off work to deal with that loss – however it occurred – without worrying about their job.
Unfortunately, not all employers keep up-to-date with new laws. Some know the law but choose not to follow it if they think it will negatively affect their bottom line. That’s why it’s crucial for California employees to know their rights so that they can assert them if they need to. If your employer isn’t allowing you to take any kind of leave to which you’re entitled or otherwise making things difficult for you and you can’t resolve the matter with them, it may be time to get legal guidance.