SB 299 extends pregnancy leave protections in California

SB 299, which went into effect early in 2012, amends California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Act (PDL). The PDL, which applies to employers with five or more employees, guarantees an employee up to four months’ leave if she is disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. SB 299 makes it unlawful for an employer to refuse to maintain and pay for group health coverage for employees throughout their PDL leave. Employers are now required to maintain group health coverage for employees on PDL leave at the level and under the conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had remained working (although the employer need not maintain and pay for coverage beyond four months).  

But look out: If the employee does not return from PDL leave, the employer has a right to recover the coverage premiums paid during the time of the PDL leave from the employee.  However, the employer has no right to recover coverage premiums if the employee does not return from PDL leave because the employee has a health condition entitling the employee to additional PDL leave, the employee takes leave under the Moore-Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act, or circumstances beyond the employee’s control.

Sean Graham

Legal Developments