As we approach the new year, California is poised to implement a new reproductive leave law that places certain obligations on employers, designed to provide support and compassion to employees facing reproductive loss. Senate Bill 848, scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2024, introduces significant changes in the way employers must handle their employees' reproductive loss situations. In this post, we will delve into the details of SB 848, understand who it affects, and what it means for employers in California.
SB 848 primarily concerns employers in California with five or more employees. These employers are now mandated by law to provide specific leave to eligible employees who have experienced reproductive loss.
In order to be entitled to this reproductive loss leave, employees must have been with their employer for at least 30 days before seeking this time off. This provision ensures that new hires are also protected by the law.
Reproductive Loss Defined
Reproductive loss, as defined by SB 848, encompasses several situations:
- Miscarriage: When a pregnancy ends before the 20th week.
- Failed Surrogacy: If a surrogacy arrangement does not result in a successful pregnancy.
- Stillbirth: The loss of a pregnancy after the 20th week.
- Unsuccessful "Assisted Reproduction": This refers to procedures like artificial insemination or embryo transfer that do not lead to a successful pregnancy.
- Failed Adoption: When an adoption attempt does not succeed.
SB 848 introduces several key provisions that employers need to be aware of:
Leave Duration: Eligible employees can take up to five days of reproductive loss leave. This leave must be taken within three months of the reproductive loss event.
Leave Flexibility: Employees are not required to take this leave on consecutive days. They can use it in a way that best suits their needs during the three-month period following the reproductive loss.
Leave Compensation: In the absence of any company-specific policies, the leave can be unpaid. However, the bill allows employees to utilize other leave balances, such as accrued and available paid sick leave if applicable.
Total Leave Cap: If an employee experiences more than one reproductive loss within a 12-month period, the total amount of leave taken should not exceed 20 days within that 12-month timeframe.
Separate Right: Reproductive loss leave, as outlined in SB 848, is a separate and distinct right from any other right under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, ensuring that your employees are not deprived of any existing benefits.
In addition to providing this leave, SB 848 places the following obligations on employers:
Non-Retaliation: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against any employee who uses this leave or shares information about it. This is essential to maintain a harmonious workplace and employee morale.
Confidentiality: Employers are required to maintain employee confidentiality regarding reproductive loss leave. This provision safeguards sensitive information and respects the privacy of your employees.
Senate Bill 848 is a significant piece of legislation that undoubtedly will have an effect on employers moving into the new year. Employers must adapt to these new regulations, but the true impact on the business landscape remains to be seen. As we move forward, it will be essential for employers to carefully navigate the fine line between compliance and maintaining the efficiency and financial stability of their organizations.