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Job Re-instatement after Maternity Leave

I am the manager of a small business, 18 employees, in California. Do the pregnancy leave laws and FMLA lawa apply to us? If so are we required to re-instate that employee to her previous job or can we offer her a different position?

The federal FMLA and state CFRA don’t apply to small businesses; however, the federal PDA and state PDL do apply to small businesses as noted below.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA) entitle eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job protected leave in a 12 month period for specified family and medical reasons. A private-sector employer with less than 50 employees is not covered by the FMLA or CFRA.

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment. The PDA covers employment by private employers with 15 or more employees.

Under the PDA, if a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer must treat her in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, the employer may have to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to pregnant employees if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees. The PDA doesn’t expressly guarantee job reinstatement rights; however, if the employer would normally reinstate other temporarily disabled employees to their exact same jobs then the same benefit must be awarded to the pregnant employee.

California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) is a state law that provides employees the right to take up to four months of job-protected unpaid leave for a pregnancy-related condition. Employers with at least five workers are covered entities.

An employee doesn’t have to be completely incapacitated to qualify for PDL leave. The employee qualifies for leave as long as she is unable to perform at least one of the essential functions of her job without undue risk of harm to herself, coworkers, or the successful completion of her pregnancy. The employer must reinstate the employee to the same position she previously held unless the position has been eliminated or the employer has other legitimate business reasons for not returning the employee to her former position. Otherwise, the employer must reinstate the employee to a comparable position.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 14th, 2014 at 11:34 am and is filed under
Human Resources Management, Labor Laws.
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