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What employers should know about reproductive loss leave

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2023 | Employment Law

California has more types of employee leave laws than many states do. With the new year comes yet another type of leave that allows employees to take some time off to deal with a family trauma. 

Specifically, the new law requires employers to give employees up to five days off work for “reproductive loss.” Further, employers cannot discriminate or retaliate against employees who ask to take this leave. Both would-be parents who suffer such a loss are eligible for reproductive loss leave.

What qualifies as reproductive loss?

The first thing that probably comes to mind when “reproductive loss” is mentioned is miscarriage. Indeed, that can be a traumatic event for the expectant parents. Miscarriage is one of the reasons an employee can take this type of leave. However, the leave can also be used when an employee and/or their spouse or partner suffer a:

  • Stillbirth
  • Failed adoption 
  • Failed reproduction through surrogacy
  • Unsuccessful reproductive technology procedure

The leave needs to be taken no later than three months after the loss is suffered. 

Does the leave have to be paid?

Employers aren’t required to pay employees for reproductive leave. However, under the law, employees can use “certain other leave balances otherwise available….including accrued and available paid sick leave.”

An employee who has suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth typically will also qualify for time off under the state’s pregnancy disability leave (PDL). Under California law, employers must give employees up to four months off during and/or after their pregnancy. This doesn’t have to be paid leave.

Be sure you know your responsibilities to your employees

The multitude of California laws that protect employees can be confusing both for employees and employers. As an employer, however, you have an obligation to ensure that the appropriate people in your organization understand these laws and are fully aware of new ones like this as they’re enacted.

Not only will this help you maintain a workforce that is confident that you understand and respect their rights. It can help you avoid costly and time-consuming legal issues. If you have questions about the new law or any other employee laws, it’s always wise to get legal guidance. It’s better to be proactive about this rather than to wait until you’re dealing with a complaint or lawsuit.