Common Maternity Leave Questions

Oh, maternity leave: the never ending abyss of questions and uncertainty. If you’re just starting to navigate the maternity leave waters check out my previous post on how to Milk Your Benefits. After reading about California maternity leave and you’ve found yourself like this, you’re not alone….


To help ease the process a bit, I’ve listed some of the most common questions I’ve been seeing in various “mommy” forums.

1) Can you accrue vacation days while on maternity leave? Typically, no – vacation and sick accrual usually stops when you start your leave. A company may chose to continue sick/vacation/PTO accrual as a benefit, but that is up to the company. Definitely something to confirm when you first talk to HR about your maternity leave benefits.

2) Will I still get health insurance through my company while I’m leave? Yes, you are entitled to the continuation of health benefits through your employer for the entire duration of your PDL and CFRA (if eligible) leave. However, depending on your employer’s policy, you may be responsible to pay the monthly premium. This amount is usually the amount you are paying each paycheck, but get that confirmed with HR too as they may cover some or all of the premium.

3) What’s the best way to fill out the EDD forms? In California, you can file claims for both SDI and Paid Family leave via the SDI Online system.

4) How does my doctor submit the medical portion of the SDI claim? If you submit the SDI claim online, you will be given a Form Receipt Number (FRN) which you have to provide to your doctor. They will then use your FRN to file the physician certificate online (or by mail). IMPORTANT NOTE: Filing online does NOT automatically kick things over to your doctor, you must notify your doc of your Form Receipt Number. Also, your SDI claim is not complete until the EDD gets the certification from your doctor.

5) If I work up until my baby is born will I get more time with my baby? No. Under the Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) law, most doctors will certify a pregnancy disability leave of 10-12 weeks for a normal pregnancy — 4 weeks before childbirth and 6 weeks after a vaginal delivery (or 8 weeks after delivery by cesarean section). This means that regardless of when you give birth you are either allotted 6 or 8 weeks after birth. Then, if eligible for CFRA, you are entitled to an additional 12 weeks of bonding leave following PDL. (More info on that here). So, my tip: If you can afford it (you will be paid 55% of your weekly wages under State Disability Insurance), definitely take some time before the baby is born to relax and get things organized since it is a “if you don’t use it; you lose it” situation.

I’ll continue to post common questions as I see them. In the meantime, if you have any questions send them my way by commenting below.

Happy Maternity Leave!

16 thoughts on “Common Maternity Leave Questions

  1. Ga Young Suh says:

    Thanks for providing all the essential information about maternity leave! My due date is Oct 11th, and based on this, I guess I can start time off on Sept 14th (4 week before the expected delivery). My question is when I can start filing a claim to get Disability Insurance wage compensation. I just registered to EDD website and reviewed the initial claim questions, and the questions were in the past tense. Does it mean I have to wait until Sept 14th, and file the claim after the actual disability (=time off) starts?
    Thank you so much again. Things will be much clearer once I figure out when I should start the process.



    • Correct, you can file your SDI claim when your actual disability/maternity leave starts. So if your last day in the office is Sept. 13, you can file for SDI on Sept. 14. Hope that helps. Also, I apologize for the delay in responding to your question!


  2. Quick question regarding the first day you can file for SDI (PDL). You’ve repeatedly mentioned that it’s the first day of missed work. But on the CA SDI site they say it’s no earlier than 9 days after or no more than 49 after the disability begins. Have the guidelines changed? Or do you still file on the first day and ignore the CA SDI site’s guidance? Great site and thanks for all of the help.


    • Apply the first day of missed work. Just ignore what the EDD site says on that. I’ve called the EDD to confirm this and they too have told me to ignore that. I think the 9 day rule might be for mailed SDI applications.


  3. Jill says:

    Wondering if I can break up my Maternity SDI (ie the first 6 weeks post delivery). I was thinking about working some hours from home save hours that tack on to continue working part time for as long as possible.agreeable to my employer. However, it looks like maybe it is just the PFL that I can break up and have to take the SDI all at once?


    • Hi Jill,

      If your doctor has certified you disabled and unable to work, you will not be able to break up your SDI post delivery. Since 6 weeks post birth is the “default” amount of disability for recovery post birth, it’s very unlikely that a doctor will certify a reduced work schedule during that recovery period. Also, even if you were able to work part time during the 6 weeks post delivery that wouldn’t give you extra time or save you hours to tack on for later use.

      Correct, you can break up PFL.


  4. charie0123 says:

    Do you know if I can break up any of the leave portions to go back to work part time? For instance, take 2 days off every week and still have job protection?

    Thanks for all the information. I’ve used this multiple time and have shared it with my coworkers to maximize my time off!


    • Hello! So great to hear that the post has been a helpful resource for you and your coworkers! Thanks for sharing with them too!

      PDL/FMLA and CFRA, which are the job protection leave laws, can be taken intermittently. Any time-off you take will simply be counted against the maximum allotments for each leave (PDL=17.3 weeks and CFRA=12 weeks). So, you’ll be able to go back to work part time and still have your job protected, but there are some caveats to note.

      Leave under PDL, pregnancy disability leave, is tied to your doctor’s certification, so your doctor will need to authorize/certify a reduced, PT schedule for your PDL. For instance, your doctor can put you on a reduced schedule during the 4 weeks before birth. However, since the “standard” duration of PDL for post-delivery recovery is set at either 6 or 8 weeks, it’s unlikely that your doctor will certify a reduced schedule during your recovery.

      CFRA for the purpose of baby bonding does not need a medical certification, so using CFRA on a reduced schedule won’t need the blessing of your doctor. However, CFRA regulations stipulate that the minimum duration of leave for CFRA is in 2 week increments; unless otherwise approved by your employer.

      Hope that helps!


  5. TeeJay says:

    Hi there – first thanks for your informative posts! It is by far the most clear and comprehensive explanation I have come across.
    I’m wondering, what happens when a California mother delivers two babies within the same calendar year (not at the same time, i.e. “Irish twins”). Apologies if you have already covered this topic, I was unable to find it using your site’s search feature.


    • Thanks! Glad to hear the posts are helpful (and clear!)

      PDL is per pregnancy. So, no matter how close you have your second baby you will have job protection under PDL for up to 17.3 weeks, as certified by your doctor.

      Assuming you work for a CFRA-eligible employer, the big question here is whether you would be eligible for CFRA (bonding leave) for baby #2. This depends on how your employer resets the clock on CFRA.

      There are 4 ways an employer can reset the clock on CFRA:
      1) The calendar year: 12 weeks of CFRA each calendar year

      2) Any fixed 12-months: 12 weeks of CFRA each fixed (i.e. fiscal) year

      3) 12-month measured forward: 12-month period measured forward from the first date an employee takes CFRA.

      Example: If you began CFRA #1 on June 1, 2017, then then the next 12-week period would begin again on June 1, 2018.

      4) The “rolling” 12-month period measured backward: 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any CFRA leave. Under the ‘‘rolling’’ 12-month period, each time an employee takes CFRA leave, the remaining leave entitlement would be the balance of the 12 weeks which has not been used during the immediately preceding 12 months.

      Example: You request to take CFRA #2 on June 1, 2018. Your employer looks back 12 months from June 2, 2017 – June 1, 2018 to see if any CFRA has been taken. As long as you haven’t used any CFRA time during that period, you are eligible for all 12 weeks of CFRA on June 1, 2018. If you used some, you would be eligible for just the balance.

      So, check with your employer to see which method they use. Employers may select any one of the four methods, but the method must be applied consistently and uniformly for all employees. Also, regardless of method, you would still need to meet the 1250 hours again prior to start of your leave.

      Hope that helps! Also, thanks for asking the question. I haven’t covered this, so you just gave me content for my next post!


  6. VM says:

    I have a question my last day worked was May 21,2018. My baby was born June 15,2018. I’m still on disability I have a doctors Note for Nov 5, 2018 due to my pregnancy.My employer is telling me that I have used all my PDL,FMLA and CRFA and I am expected to go back to work October 13,2018. Otherwise we would have to part ways. Is this accurate? Or when should my return day be?


    • So long as you’re eligible for CFRA, your return to work date would be Dec. 14.

      PDL provides a max of 4 months (5/21 – 9/20). Your employer can then start the clock on CFRA once your PDL exhausts in order to provide job protection, even though you are still disabled. As such, your CFRA would run from 9/21 – 12/13, with a return to work of 12/14.


  7. Chelsea says:

    Hello and Happy New Year! Thank you so much for all of the helpful information. I do have a question for you that’s specific to CA State employees: we are allowed to take up to a 1 year (job-protected, unpaid) leave of absense due to having a baby, but do you happen to know if health coverage is provided during that time?


    • Law mandated leave (PDL, FMLA, CFRA) would run concurrently with the 1 year of leave. While on leave under PDL, FMLA or CFRA, it’s required that health care coverage be continued but the “excess” leave period following the end of PDL, FMLA or CFRA would be subject to the terms set by your employer, Union, MOA, etc.


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