If you are at risk of miscarriage or have had a miscarriage, you (and your partner) should have the time and space to process your emotions in the way that's right for you. The last thing you should have to deal with is an employer who is misinformed, indifferent, or unsympathetic.
Unfortunately, many employers are not informed about California's protections for women for suffer from pregnancy-related medical conditions, including pregnancy-related complications or miscarriages. You should not have to educate your employer while dealing with stress, trauma, or grief. Here is a cheat sheet to ensure your employer honors your rights during these challenging times.
Can I Take Time Off Work After a Miscarriage?
While miscarriage is not specifically covered by any California laws, most California employees can take at least some time off if they miscarry. California law requires all employers to provide at least three days of paid sick leave, which can be used to heal from a miscarriage, both mentally and physically. Californians have the right to partially-paid, job-protected leave under the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law. You can use up to four months leave for your "pregnancy-related medical condition," which can include miscarriage and things like postpartum depression, anxiety, or related mental health issues.
Under the FMLA (the federal family leave law) and CFRA (California's family leave law), covered workers can take time off for their own serious health condition, which includes a miscarriage. Because these laws provide medical leave--rather than general bereavement leave--you will be entitled to the most time off if your doctor writes a note indicating that you are suffering from a pregnancy-related medical condition. Mental health issues that may follow miscarriage--depression, anxiety, etc.--can also qualify as health conditions protected under the FMLA and CFRA.
Unfortunately, FMLA/CFRA leave is unpaid and subject to numerous carve-outs (for instance, your employer has to be large enough to qualify, and your employer does not have to give it to you if you have worked fewer than 1,250 hours in the last year).
Under the PDL and CFRA, your employer cannot inquire into the details of your disability; they must accept your doctor's certification. This is critical because many women do not want to share their grief with their employer or deal with the discomfort of their employer's scrutiny or even sympathy. (By contrast, your employer may seek additional information about your diagnosis under the FMLA. In California, the more protective state law applies, and you do not need to share this information.)
Do I Have the Right to Bereavement Leave?
Why are all these requirements in medical terms? The law can be too clinical at times, and this is one example.
Unfortunately the vast majority of employers are not required to accommodate grief or bereavement; only Oregon requires employers to provide bereavement leave, and no federal law requires it. However, a bill is currently pending in California that would require large employers to provide bereavement leave. (Call your representatives!)
What to Do If Your Employer is Not Providing You Leave
We are leading pregnancy discrimination attorneys and fight for the rights of pregnant women in the workplace.
If you have experienced pregnancy discrimination or discrimination based on a pregnancy-related medical condition, contact us today through our website or give us a call at (213) 214-3757 to schedule a free consultation.