Employees in California Will Soon Be Eligible for Reproductive Loss Leave

Reproductive-related losses are a common occurrence in the United States of America. The Mayo Clinic estimates that about 10% to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. However, the Mayo Clinic reports that the number might be higher since many miscarriages happen before people realize they are pregnant. Unfortunately, reproductive-related losses largely remain unaddressed. In an effort to change this, Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a new law that will allow California employees to take reproductive loss leave. Senate Bill 848, which was signed on October 11, will take effect on the first day of 2024. It is crucial for employers and employees to understand this new law.

Previously, California employers were required to provide employees with bereavement leave upon an employee losing a family member. There was no requirement for employers to provide employees with reproductive loss leave. Senate Bill (SB) 848, which is a subset of California’s bereavement leave, increases a worker’s leave entitlements and gives employees the right to take reproductive loss leave. According to the law, employees can request up to five days of unpaid leave after a reproductive loss event. SB 848 makes it illegal for an employer to deny an eligible employee such leave.

So, what exactly is a reproductive loss event? SB 848 defines this as the day or final day (if it is an event that occurs over several days) of a miscarriage, failed surrogacy, failed adoption, stillbirth, or unsuccessful assisted reproduction. If an employee would have become a parent if these events had not occurred, they are eligible for reproductive loss leave, meaning that both men and women are eligible for reproductive loss leave.

Senate Bill 848 applies to all employers with at least five employees. For an employee to be eligible for reproductive loss leave, they must have worked with the employer for at least 30 days before the leave’s commencement. An eligible employee must take the leave within three months of the unfortunate reproductive loss event. There are only a few exceptions when this rule does not apply. However, leave days do not have to be taken on consecutive days.

While employees can request more than one reproductive loss leave in a year, an employer is under no legal obligation to provide more than 20 days of reproductive loss leave days within a 12-month period to an employee.

Leave under Senate Bill 848 is unpaid unless there is an existing policy that requires paid leave. If an employer does not have such a policy, the leave must be unpaid. Employees can decide to use, in addition to the reproductive loss leave, any accrued paid time off.

Finally, SB 848 makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for requesting or taking a reproductive loss leave. An employer cannot, among other things, discharge, fine, refuse to hire, expel, suspend, or discriminate against an employee for requesting or taking a reproductive loss leave. If an employee retaliates against you for exercising your rights under SB 848, do not hesitate to contact an employment lawyer. A skilled employment attorney can help you understand your legal options. 

Contact a California Employment Lawyer

If you need more information on Senate Bill 848, contact a California employment lawyer.