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California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law on October 10, 2023, requiring employers with California employees to provide employees up to five days of leave for reproductive-related losses, beginning on January 1, 2024.
Currently, employers with California employees are required to provide five days of unpaid, job-protected bereavement leave for the death of an employee’s family member. Bereavement leave for employees in California took effect on January 1, 2023.
Beginning on January 1, 2024, the California bereavement leave requirements are expanded to include reproductive-related losses. Read on for more information.
This new reproductive loss leave law applies to private employers with five or more employees nationwide and all public employers.
Covered employees under the law are those employees working in California and employed for at least 30 days prior to taking reproductive loss leave.
Employees may take up to five days of reproductive loss leave following a reproductive loss event, which is broadly defined as a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction.
Notably, reproductive loss leave applies to individuals who would have been recognized as a parent of the child had the reproductive loss event not occurred. This means that in addition to taking reproductive loss leave if they experience a miscarriage, stillbirth, or unsuccessful assisted reproduction, employees may also take leave if their current spouse, domestic partner, or another individual experiences those events.
The days of reproductive loss leave taken by an employee are not required to be consecutive but the leave must be completed within three months from the date of the reproductive loss event. If an employee experiences more than one reproductive loss event within a 12-month period, an employer is not required to provide more than 20 days of reproductive loss leave time within a 12-month period.
These five days of unpaid, job-protected reproductive loss leave are in addition to, and separate from, the 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
CFRA provides job-protected, unpaid leave to eligible employees for 12 weeks to care for their own serious health condition or a family member with a serious health condition, to bond with a new child, and for military exigency leave for an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent. Employers with five or more employees nationwide are subject to CFRA. Employees working in California are eligible for CFRA once they have more than 12 months of service with the employer and have worked at least 1,250 hours with the employer during the previous 12-month period.
The effective date of this new reproductive-related loss leave law is January 1, 2024.
Employers are not required to provide paid time off from work to employees for reproductive loss events unless the employer has an existing policy requiring paid leave for these purposes.
Employees may choose to substitute any accrued vacation, sick, or other employer-provided paid time off for reproductive loss leave purposes. While on the topic of California paid leave, click here for a recent Risk Strategies article detailing the expansion of California’s paid sick leave law, effective January 1, 2024.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for exercising their right to reproductive loss leave time. Retaliation includes refusing to hire, discharging, demoting, fining, suspending, expelling, or discriminating against an individual for taking reproductive loss leave.
Employers are required to maintain the confidentiality of any employee requesting reproductive loss leave and any information disclosed to the employer for reproductive loss events must not be disclosed except when required by law.
Unlike CA bereavement leave, this new law does not require employees to provide documentation when taking reproductive loss leave.
Employers with California employees are advised to take note of the January 1, 2024 effective date for this new reproductive loss-related leave requirement and take the following steps:
With this new law, California now becomes the second state in the nation to expressly require leave for reproductive-related losses, along with Illinois. This new development in California could herald additional states following suit in the future.
Risk Strategies is closely following these state leave developments and will provide updates when available. Contact us directly with any questions at email@example.com.