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Do I Have to Use My Sick or Vacation Days If I Need Time Off After Pregnancy in California?


The months of pregnancy leading up to a birth (or, in some cases, a voluntary or involuntary end of the pregnancy) can mean a lot of time that you are unable to work at your job, either for part of a day or perhaps weeks at a time. But, even after the birth of your baby and the initial time you stay home from work with your baby (or after any time away recuperating from the end of a pregnancy), you may continue to feel physical or emotional strains which impact your ability to work. Your child may also experience unexpected issues which demand your priority at the expense of work.

When these issues arise weeks and months after the birth or end of pregnancy, an employer may be hesitant to give you time off from work, arguing that you already took time away for your pregnancy and are now back on the job. Sometimes, an employer might even demand that you have to take allotted vacation or sick days to deal with post-pregnancy issues. In some cases, an employer might threaten you with termination, suspension, or demotion.

The California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law Protects Your Post-Pregnancy Leave Rights

California state law demands that employers with five or more employees follow the requirements of the California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) law. One of these requirements is that pregnant employees must receive up to four months of medical leave.

Furthermore, portions of this leave can be taken after the birth or end of pregnancy, even if the employee has returned to work. For example, you may take time off from work for PDL after a pregnancy for issues such as:

  • Postpartum depression
  • Postnatal care for the child
  • Postnatal care for the mother
  • Lactation issues
  • Need for bed rest

If your medical provider recommends that you take time off from work for these or other covered conditions, your employer must allow you to do so for up to four months of combined pregnancy and post-pregnancy leave (how many hours of work this equates to will correspond with the number of hours your work per work).

The employer must provide you with the same medical coverage you had while working during this time, and must make reasonable accommodations to restore you to your job and position upon your return.

How Sick Days and Vacation Days Work With PDL in California

California law does state that if an employer has a policy which does require you to use sick days for your PDL, then the employer can enforce that policy by allocating your sick days to any time taken off for PDL. But if there is no such employer requirement, it is up to your discretion to use sick days.

Vacation days, on the other hand, are treated differently. A California employer cannot require you to use your vacation days as part of your PDL.

If an employer has violated the PDL, you may be able to win financial recovery and injunctive relief through a California pregnancy discrimination claim.

Contact a Los Angeles Pregnancy Discrimination Attorney Today

If you suspect that you have been the victim of pregnancy discrimination, work with the employment law team at LawPLA who can help you assess your situation and understand what legal options are available to you. Contact LawPLA today to schedule a consultation to discuss your potential pregnancy discrimination law claim.


PLEASE NOTE: This is not a representation, warranty, or guarantee of a future result or outcome. Every case is different just like every one of our clients.