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April 3, 2016

California Maternity Benefits Explained

One of the most stressful parts of the pregnancy for me (Andy) was trying to figure out what benefits Chrissy and I were entitled to from the government.  Unfortunately, it is not easy to find clear information on this subject.  It was so annoying, Chrissy suggested we might not want to bother, but I figure we've paid a lot of taxes, so we deserve to get back every cent we can.

After extensive research, here's what we discovered.
In California there are several different types of leave that can be utilized:
  • Disability
  • Paid Family Leave
  • Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)
Some companies also offer maternity/paternity leave, however neither of our companies do, so we had to rely on the government programs.

Disability covers the mother giving birth and pays 55% of her salary.  She is allowed to start her leave at 36 weeks and gets six weeks after a vaginal birth or eight weeks after a C-section.  That means if her pregnancy goes to 40 weeks and she has a C-section, she gets 12 weeks of disability benefits.

Paid Family Leave allows both parents to take up to six weeks off to bond with a new baby while collecting 55% pay.  This benefit can be spread over the baby's first year.  Many employers require you to use up vacation before starting Paid Family Leave.

Combining these two programs gives mothers a pretty decent amount of leave at 55% pay.  The example I gave above gives 12 weeks of disability which can be followed by six weeks of Paid Family Leave, giving 18 weeks of payments, which is pretty good.

Last is FMLA.  This program only applies to companies with more than 50 employees, which excludes a lot of people, like Chrissy.  Luckily this program isn't that great.  All it does is guarantee you won't loose your job if you take up to 12 weeks of leave.  Note, this leave is UNPAID.

I hope all that made sense.  Future parents--make sure you get what you deserve.
There are obviously many more details and requirements for these programs, so go to the appropriate websites for the nitty gritty.

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