Paid Family Leave at the Workplace

by Annie on March 31, 2012 · 2 comments

in Maternity Leave

Paid Family Leave (PFL), like the State Disability Program (SDI), makes up a large portion of your paid maternity leave in California. Unlike SDI, there is no guideline on how to implement PFL in the workplace because you can take Paid Family Leave ANY TIME within the first year after the birth of your baby.

My company’s 20 page handbook on maternity leave only had 2 short paragraphs on PFL. When I asked my HR department for more information on Paid Family Leave, I was told to contact the program to figure it.

Hopefully this post will help answer some your questions about Paid Family Leave. If you want more information about the program itself, you can contact EDD directly.

What is Paid Family Leave in a nutshell?

The State of California will pay for you and your husband to bond with your baby for a 6 week period ANY TIME within the first year of the birth of your baby. However, if you did not paid into the State Disability Insurance program (there should be a deduction on your paystub), you do not qualify for Paid Family Leave.

PFL will pay you 55% of your weekly paycheck, which is 22 hours for a 40 hour work week. You need to use either vacation, take a leave of absence from work, or work part-time for the remaining 18 hours during this 6 week period.

When is the best time to take Paid Family Leave?

The optimal time to take Paid Family Leave is shortly after SDI ends while you are still on maternity leave. You would get the full 6 weeks of partial income replacement from PFL while on maternity leave. Some companies may require you do use up to two weeks of vacation prior to PFL. Most pregnant women would typically choose this route.

You have the option to return to work and then take PFL any time within the first year after the birth. However, if you return to work, you will have a 7 day waiting period when you finally start your Paid Family Leave. So instead of getting payments for 6 weeks at 55% of your pay, you will only get 5 weeks at 55% of your pay if you return to work and then take Paid Family Leave later.

For example, here is what your income replacement would look like if you take Paid Family Leave shortly after SDI ends:

Vaginal birth (PFL after SDI) – typical:

2 weeks before birth

1 week (5 work day or 7 calendar days) waiting period. Use sick leave for 100% of pay

1 week SDI at 55% of pay (45% of pay from sick leave or vacation)

After birth (Recovery)

6 weeks of SDI at 55% of pay (45% of pay from sick leave or vacation)

Bonding

2 weeks vacation (depends on company’s policy)

6 weeks of PFL at 55% of pay (45% of pay from vacation, return to work part-time, or leave of absence)

Using your PFL after SDI ends is optimal because you only have the 7 day waiting period once.

Vaginal birth (PFL after SDI) – uncommon:

2 weeks before birth

1 week (5 work day or 7 calendar days) waiting period. Use sick leave for 100% of pay

1 week SDI at 55% of pay (45% of pay from sick leave or vacation)

After birth (Recovery)

6 weeks of SDI at 55% of pay (45% of pay from sick leave or vacation)

Return to work

Say you have to return to work for 3 months for a product launch.

Bonding

1 week (5 work day or 7 calendar days) waiting period. Use vacation for 100% of pay

5 weeks of PFL at 55% of pay (45% of pay from vacation, return to work part-time, or leave of absence)

When you return to work, you have one 7 day waiting period before birth and another 7 day waiting period before the state starts your PFL payments. So you end up losing 22 hours of payment from the state if you are a full time employee (these hours are prorated for a part-time employer).

Why would you return to work and take PFL later if you get less income replacement?

Your job is protected under our currently maternity leave laws. Legally, your employer cannot make you return to work after your recovery from labor if you want to stay home to bond with your baby.

However, if you are a part-time worker, you might have to return to work to meet the requirements for PFL. I’ve addressed Paid Family Leave and part-time status in a previous post.

To find out about how to make the most of your maternity leave and enjoy the time with your baby, you need to watch this. I watched this video in my birthing class and it made a huge difference on how to get our baby adjusted to being outside the womb and to stop crying. His method really works!

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