A New California Law That Provides Leave for Reproductive Loss

Unfortunately, reproductive-related losses are a common occurrence. It is estimated that up to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages. Often, having a miscarriage results in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). About one in three women develop PTSD after a miscarriage. While California employees have for long been entitled to bereavement leave upon the death of a family member, reproductive-related loss remained unaddressed for long. It was not until the beginning of 2024 that employees became entitled to leaves of absence for reproductive-related losses. Senate Bill (SB) 848, which went into effect on January 1, 2024, requires California employers to grant eligible employees experiencing reproductive-related losses up to five days of leave. Below is more on Senate Bill 848.

What Does SB 848 Require?

Under SB 848, an eligible employee who suffers a reproductive loss event is entitled to up to five days of leave. So, what exactly is a reproductive loss event? The law defines this as the day or last day (in a multi-event situation) of a failed surrogacy, failed adoption, stillbirth, miscarriage, or failed assisted reproduction, including IVF and IUI. This leave is available even to the non-birthing parent.

Senate Bill 848 does not require employees to use their leave days consecutively. This allows employees the flexibility to manage their grief and recovery in a way that best suits their individual needs. However, the leave must be used within three months of the reproductive-related loss. For employees who suffer multiple losses, SB 848 allows for up to 20 days of protected leave within a year. Therefore, employers are under no legal obligation to provide more than 20 days of reproductive loss leave days to employees within a year.

Reproductive-related loss leave is unpaid unless an employer has a policy that dictates otherwise. However, it is vital to note that eligible workers have the right to use any accrued and available paid time off for reproductive loss leave.  

Who Is Covered Under Senate Bill 848?

SB 848 covers California private employers with at least five employees and California public employers of any size. On the other hand, to be eligible for reproductive loss leave, employees must have been employed by an employer for at least 30 days.

Documentation and Privacy

One notable feature of Senate Bill 848 is that the law does not include any provisions allowing employers to ask employees to provide supporting documentation about reproductive loss. This ensures privacy and respect during such sensitive times. Additionally, the law requires employers to maintain the confidentiality of any information provided by employees regarding reproductive loss.

Retaliation Is Illegal

Under SB 848, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to grant an eligible employee reproductive-related loss leave. It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for exercising their right to reproductive loss leave. An employer cannot fire you, demote you, reduce your pay, or take another adverse employment action against you for requesting or taking leave for a reproductive-related loss.

Contact a California Employment Lawyer

If you have questions or your rights under Senate Bill 848 have been violated, contact a California employment lawyer.