Help with Understanding Maternity Leave Benefits?

Hi all, 

I'm expecting a baby in late October, and I'm having a challenging time trying to get clarity around how to take CA leave benefits. 

I think I understand the basics: 
- I can go out up to 4 weeks before my due date on Pregnancy Disability Leave (with Physician Note); 6-8 weeks State Disability for Recovery after birth, and 8 weeks of Paid Family Leave after that. 

A key question I am getting conflicting answers about: 

* I have heard there is a unpaid waiting period for the first seven days of any new claim in Disability Insurance. However, some parents have told me this starts the day I go out on Pregnancy Disability Leave (Before birth of baby), while others have said there was no waiting period during Pregnancy Disability Leave but there is a 7 day waiting period at the start of "Recovery" State Disability Leave (after the birth). 

I would like to take my sick time during the unpaid waiting period, so I'm trying to figure out which week I need to submit a request for sick time from my employer. 

Anyone out there able to tell me: 

1. When does the 7 day waiting period begin? (ie: first day of PregDisabilityLeave, or Recovery Disability Leave. Or is there an unpaid week for both??...) 

2. Can I use sick time to cover this 7 days? (ie, is that legal with the state, to use sicktime while waiting for a claim to be approved?) 

3. Is there a number I can call to get these and other answers directly from the State of CA? I've tried the numbers I can find on the internet, and they just send me to a long web of recorded information, none of which answers this question.

It seems crazy that the only way to get this info is from other parents (but I'm SO grateful to y'all for helping get this info!). My HR person is uninterested in helping me figure it out, just says I need to work it out with the state. 

Thanks so much for any insight! 

Jess 

Parent Replies

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Yes, you can definitely use your sick time during the seven-day waiting period, which begins at the start of your disability claim. (The 4 weeks before your due date and 6-8 weeks after birth are all part of one claim so you just have a waiting period on the front end. If you take Paid Family Leave for bonding time, that is a separate claim and has its own waiting period, but is pretty streamlined.) You can also use sick leave during your paid disability time; this is called integration or coordination of benefits. You confirm with EDD how much you are eligible for through the state, and then put in enough hours of sick leave with your employer to make up the difference between that amount and your normal paycheck. EDD has some resources on this online, but my employer's HR team was pretty clueless about it and had to be walked through it. Still, I was really glad I did it. I used sick leave during the disability period and then vacation leave during the PFL period to have my normal paycheck throughout my time off, which was hugely valuable. Congratulations on your pregnancy!

Hi,

The prior response was pretty thorough but I wanted to add three points -

1. There is no longer a waiting period for PFL (there used to be, they got rid of it). This wouldn't apply to you either way, since you are doing yours once you go on medical leave, but it does affect the partner. So if your partner is eligible for PFL, they can take it right away, like the day the baby is born.

2. I had a neighbor who wanted to take full advantage of the 4 weeks paid leave prior to delivery, so she had her doctor approve her leave at 35 weeks. This was because if you deliver on time, you only get 3 weeks because of the one week unpaid waiting period. I'm not sure what happens if you get to 41 or 42 weeks in that circumstance. But, I kind of wish I had done that myself having delivered early with both my pregnancies.

3. If you happen to work in San Francisco, the city requires your employer to top you off during your 8 weeks of PFL to 100% of your normal salary. https://sfgov.org/olse/paid-parental-leave-ordinance. Some employers that have offices in SF and the East Bay honor it for their East Bay employees too.

Best of luck, and enjoy your time off.

1. Yes you can use your sick time to cover those 7 days. 
2. No there isn’t two waiting periods because  it’s all part of the same “issue” of being preggers. 
3. no there isn’t a great number to call. BUT I would recommend going on your State Assemblyman’s website and email them to get help. I did this when I had issues with the Disability office and they helped connect me with someone directly in the office. 
4. Go to www.legalaidatwork.org/our-programs/work-and-family-program/. They have GREAT handouts for pregnancy about time off. 

Hi, 
I would suggest you look up the pregnancy/maternity leave fact sheet on legalaid.org. The fact sheet should be able to answer your questions. You can also consult with an attorney to make sure you are going about your time off correctly. Yes, you can use your sick time during the seven day waiting period at the start of your pregnancy disability leave. I would highly encourage you to set up an EDD account as it’s quicker than sending their paperwork by mail. Also note, there’s FMLA and CFRA both 12 weeks long and separate programs that you can use. 1. SDI for pregnancy disability leave and 6 or 8 weeks depending on how you birth your baby. If you have any post partum issues like depression there’s a way to have the SDI extended. 2. PFL for bonding 8 weeks now. Used to be 6 weeks. Hope hay helps some. 

Hi Jess and congrats! I have a 7 month old and had a heck of a time figuring all this out as well this year  

There is an unpaid 7 day waiting period whenever you start your disability claim but that’s standard with any new claim through the EDD. I believe it would be fine to use your sick leave for that. 

Just to be clear, you can’t file your SDI claim until the first day of your disability so this can be hard to preconceive unless you have a scheduled c-section or clear physician’s reason to take disability before your due date. 

I had good luck reaching a human at SDI using this number: 1 (800) 480-3287. It’s definitely worth several tries at different times of day! 

Feel free to reach out if I can be of any further help and good luck!

The anonymous reply you already received is all correct! In addition, your doctor can put you out on disability earlier than 4 weeks ahead if there’s a medical reason. You also get 8 weeks of recovery if you end up with a C-section, and this does not affect the paid PFL bonding time (eg you can go back to work 2 weeks later). 

A friend who is a lawyer recommended this organization for assistance (they have a free hotline) if you have problems with your HR: https://legalaidatwork.org/our-programs/work-and-family-program/

Since these benefits are administered by EDD, I would go straight to the source: https://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/pfl_mothers.htm

Hey Jess, 

I'm going through the same craziness right now trying to figure this out with my HR department. It's a disgrace that our employers do not understand how to navigate this for us and leave it to us to tell them how it works. Anyway, just sharing that I feel your pain and if you want to reach out to compare notes on what you have learned about maternity leave I'm happy to chat. I'm intending to start my 36 week disability leave next Wednesday, October 20th. 

-Vanessa

Some great responses already shared and I wanted to add that you should track your paychecks carefully when you're on leave. My partner's HR Dept totally messed up and we didn't realize until tax time and ended up having to file an extension while the HR Dept sorted out all the issues. 

Here's a list of sites that I collected 4 years ago with support and resources related to paid family leaves (not just new child related):

https://www.workfamilyca.org/resources (videos and more related to all paid family leave)

https://typeamomtales.com/2015/01/08/california-maternity-leave-how-to-m... (super helpful visuals by a parent and updated for new 2021 laws)

http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/Employment/?content=faq/pregnancy-disability-leav... (your rights as a pregnant person in CA, including leaves)

I, too, recommend https://legalaidatwork.org/our-programs/work-and-family-program/

And have you looked directly at the EDD website: https://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/pfl_mothers.htm

If you plan to return to work while nursing, be sure you also understand your rights to lactation accommodation, both federal and state; In California, the law applies to ALL employees, regardless of the size of the business. http://californiabreastfeeding.org/breastfeedingrights/breastfeeding-at-...