What employers should know about the new reproductive loss leave

On Behalf of | Dec 26, 2023 | Employment Law

People build their families in all different ways these days. Besides the old-fashioned way, there’s adoption, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy. When things don’t go as planned, it can be devastating for both prospective parents. 

Beginning in January, California law is recognizing that people may need to take a little time off to recover from a “reproductive loss” – no matter how it happens. The law will require California employers to let their employees take up to five days off without fear of retaliation or discrimination.

This leave can be used for:

  • Miscarriages
  • Stillbirths
  • Failed adoptions
  • Failed surrogacies
  • Unsuccessful reproductive technology procedures

Employees have up to three months after the loss to take this leave, which is available to both prospective parents.

While employers don’t have to provide paid reproductive loss leave, it’s important to understand that they can use “certain other leave balances otherwise available….” This can include paid sick leave, for example.

What new employee rights are in the law?

For some employers, the new law may not bring significant changes to their policies. Many California employers already let employees take time off to deal with serious events in their life. Further, California already offers pregnancy disability leave (PDL) for the person giving birth. 

The new law, however, recognizes that reproductive losses affect the other spouse or partner as well. Further, a couple can be devastated by learning that they’re not going to get the child they’d planned for and dreamed of – no matter how that child was going to come to them.

Even if you consider yourself a generous employer who believes in letting employees put family first, it’s still crucial to understand the law – and to make sure that all of your people in management, supervisory and personnel positions understand it so that they aren’t giving employees incorrect information. You can further help your employees by making sure they know about the new law so they know it’s there for them if they need it. If you have questions or concerns about any part of it or other state or federal employment laws, it’s wise to have sound legal guidance.


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