Pregnancy should be a celebrated event. However, for many expectant parents, the fear of how an employer will react introduces anxiety to otherwise happy news. Parents are likely to worry about their income when the mother needs to take time off of work due to the pregnancy and what will happen if the father wants to spend time away from work to bond with the baby. Luckily for expanding families in California, the state offers State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave to provide some relief to parents with these concerns.

STATE DISABILITY INSURANCE:
California State Disability Insurance (referred to as “SDI”) is a state-mandated program that provides short-term benefits to qualified employees who are unable to work due to a non-work related illness or injury, or due to pregnancy or childbirth. Under SDI, eligible employees are given partial wages during their time off on disability. This program is funded through employee payroll deductions and allows employees who qualify to take six weeks off of work, being paid at 55% of their salary. The six weeks may be taken all at one time, or spread out over the course of one year.

PAID FAMILY LEAVE:
Paid Family Leave (referred to as “PFL”) was created for workers who need to take time off of work to care for a seriously ill spouse, parent, registered domestic partner, or spouse, as well as to cover workers who wanted to take time off of work to bond with a new child.* For bonding, a parent’s eligibility for PFL is limited to the first year of the child’s birth, adoption, foster care placement. Similar to SDI, PFL covers six weeks of time off of work, which can be taken all at once or within a year, and is paid at a percentage of an eligible employee’s salary.

HOW TO APPLY:
To apply, workers can go on to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) website. It will ask the employee to create an online profile and submit proof of eligibility for the benefit(s). For SDI, EDD will likely ask for a doctor’s verification that the employee is indeed disabled and unable to work. For PFL, if to bond with the birth of a new child, for example, EDD will likely require the baby’s birth certificate.

For more information, please visit the California Employment Development Department’s website at www.edd.ca.gov

*Beginning July 1, 2014, the scope of when PFL benefits would apply to a worker taking take time off of work was expanded to include care for a seriously ill parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling. For more information, view Senate Bill 770 (Chapter 350, Statutes of 2013).