2018: Important Updates to Maternity Leave

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2018…more like, two thousand – GREAT-een! (sorry, I had to do it!)

First, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, as well as a fantastic start to their new year! Second, I clearly need to make updating this blog a new year’s resolution. I’ve still been super active on spreading the good word on maternity leave info, but I’ve been doing it mainly on my Facebook Group, California Maternity Leave Support (Update: sorry, this Facebook group is no longer active). But alas, new year, new goals – I’ll start updating this blog more often! Okay, with that said, let’s get down to some California maternity leave business….

2018 brings two major updates to the world of maternity leave for California residents.

1.Bonding leave extends to employers with 20+ employees:

Effective January 1, 2018, the California New Parent Leave Act (NPLA) requires employers with over 20 employees within a 75 mile radius to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

Previously bonding leave was limited to those working for larger employers with over 50+ employees. However, thanks to NPLA, employers with 20-49 employees are now subject to CFRA regulations applicable to leave for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of an employee’s child.

Note that all other CFRA eligibility requirements remain the same. This includes 1) having worked at least a year with your employer, and 2) having clocked in at least 1,250 WORKING hours during the 12-month period immediately prior to the date the leave is to commence.

It’s important to note that NPLA only affects the “baby bonding” component of CFRA. As such, an employee eligible for NPLA is not entitled to other forms of leave provided by the CFRA. For example, if you need to take leave for your own serious health condition under CFRA, the 50+ employee requirement for CFRA eligibility still remains.

Further, NPLA has no effect on FMLA or its eligibility requirements (i.e. the 50+ employee requirement for FMLA remains the same). But, remember, in California, in the context of maternity leave, FMLA really doesn’t matter since Pregnancy Disability Leave (a state law) supersedes FMLA. Plus, PDL is more generous than FMLA, giving pregnant women UP TO 17.3 weeks of leave vs. 12 weeks under FMLA, and PDL is available to those who work at companies with 5+ employees. FMLA, if applicable, will simply run in the background of PDL.

So, what does this mean for ME and my maternity leave?

This means that if you work for a company with 20+ employees and was previously not allowed in to the “CFRA club” (untz untz untz), you are now covered under NPLA. And as a result, you’ll get an additional 12 weeks to bond with your baby after you’re done with the PDL portion of your leave. At minimum, here’s what your leave timeline would look like:

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 9.56.18 PM

Thanks NPLA and California for giving those hard-working mammas and pappas at smaller businesses some more QT with their bebes!

For more info on maternity leave 101, check out this post.

2. Increases to California SDI and PFL Benefit Amounts

The second update is the increase to SDI and PFL benefit amounts. As of January 1, 2018, thanks to AB 903, wage replacement rates for SDI and PFL increased from 55% to:

  • 70% for those who earned less than one-third of the state’s average quarterly wage during the base period (prior four quarters); OR
  • 60% for those who earned one-third or more of the state’s average quarterly wage during the base period (prior four quarters).

I’ll be doing a blog post on how to calculate your benefit amount soon, so stay tuned. Further, the bill also eliminated the 7-day unpaid waiting period for PFL. Note, the waiting period for SDI remains intact.

So, there you have it! Some nice updates to your maternity leave plans!

If you have questions regarding California maternity leave, or would like more information on how I can provide individualized support to help maximize your maternity leave, please visit Maternity Leave 411.





31 thoughts on “2018: Important Updates to Maternity Leave

  1. Carlos P says:

    Do you know if there are requirements to use all sick time first? My wife is a teacher for a charter school and she is being told that she has to use all 21 days of her sick time before going on leave or using other benefits. We can’t tell if she has been paying into casdi, there are no signs on her paystubs or w2.


    • I know that some (public school) teachers don’t pay into CA SDI taxes.

      Unfortunately, I’m not versed in how leave works within a school district and/or stipulations on how sick, vaca, etc can be used to compensate yourself during periods of unpaid leave. As those are also governed under specific Education Codes. I’d hate to tell you the wrong information. So sorry!


      • Carlos P says:

        Hi, Thank you for replying. I appreciate all you do for parents. You provide a lot of great information. Let us know when you run for public office and we’ll vote for you. Maternity leave should be paid for at least 6 months no matter what 🙂 Keep up the great work. I’ll reply with any information that I find out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, please keep me posted. I’d love to learn more about how schools manage maternity leave! If I find out information, I’ll pass it along to you as well.


  2. Laura says:

    Do contractors count towards the 20 person employee threshold? Context: I work for a company that has fewer than 20 fulltime onsite workers at our SF HQ, but LOTS of contractors (which brings us to more than 20 employees in a 75 mile radius).


    • Only employees are counted towards the employee threshold number for FMLA and CFRA – not independent contractors (assuming that the ICs are being correctly classified as ICs, and not actually employees).


  3. Nana Ng says:

    I’m a little bit confused about the 7 days unpaid waiting period. I thought the new law, which started in Jan 2018, has removed the 7 days unpaid waiting period? Is this true? If so, does that mean we get pay the first day we file the claim? Please help, thanks!


  4. Joanna says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR POSTING THIS!!! Even asking my friends who JUST got back from maternity leave were getting the program names mixed up and were not helpful. This lays it out so clearly and what to do when. You are a life saver.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so helpful, thank you! I’m confused about the math for PDL. I know that I’m eligible for up to 17.3 weeks, but your graphic only shows 10? About to go on PDL in August and for some reason my employer hasn’t given me the option for the 22/24 week job protection – just the 17.3 weeks. Does that seem strange to you? Or something you’ve heard of? Thank you!


    • Glad to hear the post was helpful.

      This is because PDL provides *up to* 17.3 weeks of leave. However, you don’t automatically get all 17.3 weeks of PDL. The actual duration of leave is for however long your doctor has certified you disabled by pregnancy and childbirth. The “standard” duration that a doctor will certify disability for pregnancy/childbirth is 10-12 weeks: 4 weeks before birth, and 6 or 8 weeks post-birth depending on how you delivered. Of course, should you have any complications during pregnancy or after birth, your doctor can certify an extension on your PDL past the “standard” duration.

      Do you qualify for CFRA? CFRA provides an additional 12 weeks of bonding leave following PDL, which is how you get 22/24 weeks of leave (4 weeks of PDL pre-birth + 6/8 weeks of PDL post-birth + 12 weeks of CFRA for bonding). If your employer has only mentioned that you get up to 17.3 weeks of leave, it could be bc you are not eligible for CFRA.

      Also, is your employer granting you the full 17.3 weeks of PDL, regardless if you’re recovered after 6 or 8 weeks post-birth? In which case, your employer’s leave policy would supersede PDL.

      Hope that helps!


  6. JC says:

    Hi, my doctor’s administration office is saying that techinically they can only certify me disabled 4 weeks before my expected due date but I have a C-Section date scheduled one week before which means they are only giving me 3 weeks (not 4) before my scheduled delivery date. They say that is what EDD’s policy is. I can’t find anywhere on the EDD website that differentiates between scheduled C-section and expected due date and whether it’s 4 weeks prior to whichever date. Do you have any resource online that I can reference that states it can be 4 weeks prior to a scheduled C-Section date?


    • Your doctor is correct. Even for a scheduled CS, the standard protocol is to still start disability at 36 weeks (or 4 weeks prior to estimated due date).


  7. Erin says:

    Thanks for all the information! To echo everyone – you are amazing 🙂 I’m wondering if you might have any insight on my situation. My company has a 90-day (12.8 weeks) maternity leave at 100% pay that begins on the actual day you give birth – so this would take me through 16.8 weeks on your graphic. Could I use PFL to get wage replacement through 22 weeks? Or would the PFL timeframe run concurrently with my company’s leave policy, leaving me with the option of unpaid leave or using vacation?


    • Thanks for the kind words!

      As long as you are eligible for CFRA, you would be able to claim PFL following your employer paid leave. This is because once your employer’s paid leave exhausts, you’d still have unpaid CFRA time remaining – and you can claim PFL for any weeks of unpaid CFRA you have remaining.

      IF the employer paid leave pays out at 100% (versus your employer supplementing on top of PFL to get you to 100%), then PFL and your company paid leave cannot run concurrently. So, best to confirm with your employer that it is in fact 100% vs supplementing to get to 100%


      • marsha m. says:

        Hi- my employer also said they cover “100%” as Liberty Mutual (company which manages my employers maternity leave) explained that my employer would only be supplementing CA PFL and CFRA the remaining 40% from the 60% i was getting from the state. So every week, the govt would upload $ into my govt issued debit card for that week (representing 60% of my paycheck) and then, as usual, every 2 weeks my employer would direct deposit me the remaining 40% to make me whole (note, the employer went ahead and paid insurance, 401K and tax withholding, etc. out of my check as if they were paying me my usual pay check). Every week I would simply log into the states Bank of America system and transfer the state money to by personal checking so I would have all the money in one place to pay bills, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Natalie W says:

    Thanks so much for all the helpful info. Do you know what benefits are available to companies with under 20 employees if any? I know we are still eligible for SD and PFL, but it doesn’t seem like there are options beyond that.


    • Glad to hear the info has been helpful!

      First off, SDI and PFL are just wage replacement programs. They do not provide job protection. Further, neither SDI nor PFL have employer-size requirements. You are eligible to receive SDI and/or PFL if you’ve been paying into CA SDI taxes.

      That said, if you work for an employer with less than 20 employees, you would only be eligible for leave under Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). PDL provides unpaid job protection for the duration you are disabled – during which time you can receive SDI for the duration you are disabled.

      While you are also eligible for PFL, you unfortunately aren’t eligible for the necessary job protection component (CFRA) in order to take the time off to collect PFL.

      Here’s a post where I discuss this situation: https://typeamomtales.com/2015/05/20/not-eligible-for-fmlacfra-what-to-do/


  9. jasmine truong says:

    This website has been really help.

    I know you’ve been asked a lot of the same questions but in different scenarios.

    So I am due 09/22 however I want to take my leave at 37 weeks, starting Aug 31st. Hence, the fact I already filed a claim with cigna for FMLA, and my return date is to work is Jan 2nd (most likely).

    In order, for me to get paid… I would have to file PDL along with SDI (wage replacement) correct? Does this run concurrent with FMLA? After funds are exhausted, is FMLA still in affect or does CFRA does kick in? or does PDL come first (I am still a bit confused). How would I extend my time after PDL/SDI funds has exhausted. Would that consider as baby bonding?


    • Glad to hear the site is helpful.

      PDL (pregnancy disability leave) is a CA leave law that provides unpaid job protection for leave while you are disabled by pregnancy and childbirth. PDL runs concurrently with FMLA (federal law). PDL and FMLA are coordinated through your employer.

      To get paid, you simply need to file a claim for SDI. You can do so online by going to the EDD website.

      Once you are no longer disabled, PDL (job protection) and SDI (wage replacement) will stop. At which point, as long as you are eligible, you will be entitled to an additional 12 weeks of bonding leave under CFRA. Of your 12 weeks of CFRA, 6 weeks are paid through Paid Family Leave and the remaining 6 weeks are unpaid CFRA.

      Similarly, CFRA (job protection) is coordinated through your employer. And, you can file your claim for PFL online through the EDD website.

      Hope that helps!


  10. Isha says:

    Great blog, helps clarify different leave & job protection eligibilities in California!

    Question: My employer provides 8 weeks of paid leave from the day of birth. Can I use the 4 weeks SDI prior to the due date (with 60-70% of pay) – then jump on the 8 weeks employer paid leave – followed by 6 weeks of PFL (with 60-70% of pay) under CFRA?


    • Thanks for the feedback!

      Yes, you can utilize SDI for the first 4 weeks of your disability prior to due date. Once you start receiving paid leave from your employer (assuming at a 100% paid), you would need to stop your SDI claim as you can’t receive more than 100% of your normal current wages.

      Assuming you are CFRA eligible, and assuming you give birth at 40 weeks vaginally with no extensions to your disability, your timeline would look like this:

      Weeks 1-4: PDL / SDI only
      Weeks 5 – 10: PDL / 6 weeks of 100% employer paid leave (of 8 weeks). PDL ends when recovered from childbirth, and 12 weeks of CFRA for bonding begins.
      Weeks 11 – 12: CFRA (2 weeks) / remaining 2 weeks of employer paid leave at 100%
      Weeks 13 – 18: CFRA (6 weeks) / 6 weeks of PFL
      Weeks 19 – 22: CFRA (4 weeks) / unpaid CFRA unless you use PTO or vacation

      Hope that helps!


  11. Brittany says:

    Thank you for all the information. My friend just delivered a baby via emergency c section in California at only 24 weeks gestation. He is currently in the NICU, and expected to be there until his initial due date in November. She works for a large employer, and qualifies for PDL and CRFA. What are her leave options? I don’t think they have any long or short term disability insurance.


    • She would be protected under PDL until she is fully recovered from childbirth. PDL provides up to 17.3 weeks of leave, as medically necessary. Once her doctor certifies her recovered, she is entitled to an additional 12 weeks of bonding leave under CFRA.

      Of note, if your friend continues to be disabled after exhausting all 17.3 weeks of PDL, her employer can start the clock on CFRA for job protection.

      Hope that helps! If you or your friend need further assistance, please email me directly at maternityleave411@gmail.com.


  12. Kenna says:

    This has been the most helpful post about maternity leave. My question is if there are two separate claims to file. Do I complete the paperwork for PDL and a separate one for CFRA bonding leave?


    • Glad to hear the post was helpful.

      PDL and CFRA are unpaid job protection leave laws that are entirely coordinated with your employer. Ask your employer if they have necessary paperwork for you to file. Most employers will have paperwork, but if they don’t – which is okay – I would advice that you get your leave and dates in writing.

      As for SDI and PFL, which are wage replacements programs through the state while on PDL and CFRA, those are two separate claims you would need to file through the EDD website. You can file for SDI on the first day of your leave, and you’ll continue to receive SDI until you are recovered. Once you are recovered (i.e. you can’t file for PFL until you are done with SDI), you can file your claim for PFL.

      Hope that helps!


  13. Nana Ng says:

    Thanks again for these wonderful information on maternity leave!

    I have a quick question. My estimated due date was supposed to be 9/12/18 (and it’s the date that I used when filling out the SDI application). I used 8/19/18 as the start of my disability. However, I gave birth two weeks early on 8/30. I have been logging onto the site to check the date when the SDI runs out, and it still has it as 10/25/18 (I think they used this date according to the estimated birth date of 9/12 that I gave on the original application). I have also updated my baby’s actual birth date 8/30 on the website…but so far, the return to work is still 10/25…do you think they will update it soon using the 8/30 birth date which means the SDI will run out on 10/11? (I had a regular vaginal birth). Is that how it works? Thanks!


  14. MH says:

    Thank you from our hearts for taking the time to share this valuable and well structured information! I wanted to find out what the rules are for California residents who got stuck in another state – my wife and I took a short trip and during that time another Dr classified her pregnancy as high risk with diabetes and advised against travel. So we still qualify for the CA benefits if she is physically not in CA? Appreciate your time


    • Absolutely! It doesn’t matter that you’re not currently in CA.

      Will it be her out of state doctor certifying her disability? If so, since the doc is out of state, he/she may not be able to use the EDD SDI Online system to certify her disability claim. Nothing major, but the doc will have to submit the medical certification form via snail mail instead of the online system. That’s the only hiccup I can see.

      Hope that helps!


  15. Dani Casitllo says:

    Thank you so much for this information. I am a first time mother and have been stressing over this!
    I don’t qualify for FMLA or CFRA as my job only employs only about 10 employees. 😦 I understand I can still apply for SDI and PFL. However, I’m due early December, I won’t be able to to take sdi pre-birth. Can I still apply for SDI after I have given birth?


    • Glad to hear the info is helpful.

      Your eligibility/ability to apply for SDI and PFL are independent of your eligibility for FMLA/CFRA. **But, there are some caveats to PFL, which I’ll get into…

      Even if you are not eligible for FMLA, you are still eligible for Pregnancy Disability Leave. The only requirement for PDL is that you work for an employer with 5+ employees. The “standard” duration of PDL is 10 – 12 weeks: 4 weeks prior to estimated due date and 6 or 8 weeks after (depending on vaginal or cs birth). During which time, you’ll be able to collect SDI.

      So, to answer your question — you’ll actually be able to collect SDI pre-birth, since you’ll be able to start leave under PDL 4 weeks before birth. And, you’ll continue to receive SDI until you are recovered from childbirth (i.e. 6 – 8 weeks postbirth, but longer should you have complications).

      As for PFL, by virtue of being eligible for SDI you’re also eligible for PFL. However, since PFL is only wage replacement and does NOT provide job protection, you’ll have to work out an additional leave of absence with your employer in order to take the time off to collect PFL.

      I wrote a post re moms not eligible for FMLA/CFRA here: https://typeamomtales.com/2015/05/20/not-eligible-for-fmlacfra-what-to-do/

      Hope that helps!


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