Question: During a complicated pregnancy, what happens if an employee uses all 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave prior to the birth? What about workers’ compensation, state disability, and company provided disability? Does the employer have to give the employee all of the payment options and permit the employee to decide? What changes if the employee is in California?

Answer: Although the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers leave up to 12 weeks, the California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) is up to four months. For a full-time employee, the four months means 17-1/3 weeks.

At the end of the employee’s period of pregnancy disability, or at the end of four months of pregnancy disability leave, whichever occurs first, a California Family Rights Act (CFRA) eligible employee may request to take CFRA leave of up to 12 workweeks for reason of the birth of her child, if the child has been born by this date or as a reasonable accommodation if it’s medically necessary prior to the birth.

Workers’ compensation would not apply in this situation since it is not an on-the-job injury.

An employee may apply for California State Disability Insurance (SDI) and collect up to 52 weeks of full disability benefits, or the amount of wages in their base period, whichever is less. SDI is only available to compensate wages lost when an employee is considered disabled due to the pregnancy by a healthcare provider. SDI does not include “baby bonding time.”

If the company has a short-term disability (STD) plan for which the employee is eligible, we recommend contacting the carrier to determine how SDI and the company STD plan integrate.