As parents and soon-to-be parents, you likely know about the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides just 12 weeks of (unpaid!) job protected leave for pregnant mamas and new parents. We’re lucky in California because working parents are entitled to additional protections and benefits. These additional protections and benefits mean that a pregnant woman in California can take a longer leave from work and some of it is even paid! 

The downside to having all these laws, is that it’s confusing to figure out which ones actually apply to your situation and as a result, employees may not take advantage of all the leave that they are entitled to. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to be informed so that you can maximize your time at home with your new baby.

When Should I Start?

Start the research process early (during your second trimester)

What Are My Leave Rights?

  • Determine your eligibility to take leave under each of the three relevant laws: the California Family Rights Act, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, and California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave law. Your eligibility is likely to dictate how much leave you are entitled to take.
  • Educate yourself about your company’s policies and procedures regarding pregnancy/parental leave and other leaves of absence (most likely in your Employee Handbook).

Will I Get Paid While I’m on Leave?

  • Confirm you are eligible for 10-12 weeks of State Disability Leave and 6 weeks of Paid Family Leave.
  • Review your company’s policies regarding paid leave and use of accrued leave during maternity leave.

What Should I Say to My Employer?

  • Once you’ve done your research and you know your options, develop a plan for your pregnancy and maternity leave before presenting it to your employer.
  • This is also a good time to discuss any pumping accommodations you may need after you return to work.


  •’s Avra Siegel outlines the issues *California provides additional protections to those outlined in this article
  • 11 Questions Pregnant Employees Worry About  *California provides additional protections to those outlined in this article
  • FMLA Fact Sheet
  • FAQ for California Family Rights Act and Pregnancy Disability Leave
  • California Disability Insurance
  • California Paid Family Leave

MEET Rachel

Rachel Gardunio is an attorney with more than six years of employment law experience, and she currently works in-house for a governmental agency. As a working mother of two, she was inspired to begin a practice focusing on working families. 

Rachel provides private and group education to soon-to-be and new parents. She can help you decipher the various laws and policies and assist in developing a plan to bring to your employer so that you can maximize your leave options. She provides a flat-fee consultation in-person in the Bay Area or via telephone throughout California. 

Rachel can be contacted at .