January 1, 2001
Pregnancy-Related Medical Leave (Unpaid)
All staff employees are eligible. Excluded are faculty and those claiming student status (including teaching and research assistants).
Federal and state regulations governing Pregnancy Leave are complex and frequently change. In order to assure that the university complies with applicable laws, departments must contact Personnel Services for advice whenever a situation arises that may qualify an employee for this leave and to coordinate notification.
The university complies with California law which provides up to four months of unpaid leave, as needed per medical certification, for the period of time a woman is disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or a related condition. The law requires that, if medically advised and if requested by the employee, the employer provide intermittent leave, a reduced work schedule or a transfer of the employee to less strenuous and/or less hazardous position or duties.
The supervisor must inform the staff employee of her rights under this policy when that employee raises an issue that may qualify her for this leave.
Although the leave is unpaid, the employee may be entitled to disability benefits and should contact the university’s private disability benefits administrator, Broadspire, at (800) 495-2315.
Transfer of Position or Duties
If a qualified medical practitioner certifies that it is medically advisable for a pregnant staff employee to be transferred to a less strenuous and/or less hazardous position or duties for some period of time during the pregnancy, the department must transfer the staff employee to a position of comparable pay and benefits, provided the transfer can be reasonably accommodated. The department may not transfer the staff employee to a position which would violate the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. The medical certification must contain the date on which the need to transfer became medically advisable, the probable duration of the period(s) of the need to transfer and an explanatory statement that the transfer is medically advisable. The university may request a second medical opinion for review and approval prior to granting the transfer.
For a foreseeable leave or need for transfer, the staff employee must provide at least thirty (30) days advance written notice. If the leave or need for a transfer is not foreseeable, the staff employee must give written notice as soon as possible. The notice must include the expected start and return to work dates. The supervisor must respond to a leave or transfer request as soon as possible, before the leave/transfer is to begin and no later than 10 days after the request.
Intermittent Leave and Reduced Work Schedules
The staff employee must first consult with her supervisor about scheduling of planned medical treatment related to pregnancy to minimize disruption to the department’s operation. However, when intermittent leave or a reduced work schedule is medically advisable, the department must provide it. The supervisor may require that the staff employee transfer to an available alternative position of comparable pay and benefits which will better accommodate the periods of recurring leave. Once intermittent leave or a reduced work schedule is no longer necessary, the staff employee must be returned to her original position or, if the original position has ceased to exist due to business necessity, to a substantially similar position of comparable pay and benefits.
When a staff employee takes intermittent leave or works on a reduced work schedule, only the time-off actually taken may be counted toward the four months of pregnancy leave.
Reinstatement after Leave/Transfer
When a staff employee temporarily disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition is no longer disabled, the department must reinstate her to the original position or, if the original position has ceased to exist due to business necessity, to a substantially similar position of comparable pay and benefits.
Relationship Between Pregnancy-Related Medical Leave and FMLA and CFRA Leaves
California Pregnancy Leave is also considered a FMLA Leave. If the staff employee is eligible for leave under the Federal Family Care and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the department can count up to 12 weeks of the employee’s pregnancy disability leave against her FMLA leave entitlement. A staff employee’s own disability due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is not included as a serious health condition under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). However, if eligible, at the end of the staff employee’s certified pregnancy disability, or at the end of four months pregnancy leave, whichever occurs first, she can request up to 12 weeks to care for her newborn. See the university Family Care and Medical Leave policy.
It is unlawful to discriminate or retaliate against a staff employee for exercising her right to take Pregnancy Leave.
Human Resources Administration
Dennis F. Dougherty, Senior Vice President for Administration
University of Southern California