Parenthood and the Workplace: A Guide to Employee Rights and Employer Responsibilities

Posted by Catherine Chukwueke | Mar 19, 2024

Empowering working mothers has become a crucial focus in contemporary employment law. This article explores two significant pieces of California legislation—the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") and Senate Bill 848 (SB 848)—to highlight ways employers can enhance their support for working mothers navigating family leave and reproductive health decisions.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): A Foundation for Support

Basic Leave Entitlement and Eligibility

The FMLA provides eligible employees up to twelve workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave each calendar year for specified family and medical reasons. To qualify, employees need at least one year of service and 1,250 hours worked over the previous 12 months with the same employer.

Reproductive Health Protections under Senate Bill 848

Effective January 1, 2024, SB 848 introduced provisions to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, emphasizing support for working mothers facing reproductive loss events. Employers are now prohibited from denying eligible employees up to five days of reproductive loss leave, covering scenarios like failed adoptions, surrogacies, miscarriages, stillbirths, or unsuccessful assisted reproduction. This leave, to be taken within three months of the event, underscores the importance of employer support during sensitive times.

Enhancing Employer Support: Key Considerations

Open Communication and Flexibility

Employers can foster a supportive environment by encouraging open communication with working mothers. Maintaining flexibility in work arrangements, especially during family leave or challenging times, can alleviate stress and contribute to a positive workplace culture.

Awareness and Implementation of Legislation

Employers should stay informed about the FMLA and SB 848, ensuring compliance and actively implementing supportive policies. This includes recognizing the eligibility criteria for family leave and understanding the provisions of reproductive loss leave, demonstrating a commitment to fostering a workplace sensitive to the needs of working mothers.

Confidentiality and Non-Retaliation Policies

Creating a culture of confidentiality regarding reproductive health matters is essential. Employers must establish and communicate clear policies to safeguard the privacy of working mothers. Additionally, implementing non-retaliation policies reinforces the commitment to supporting employees in utilizing their entitled leaves without fear of repercussions.

Educational Initiatives

Employers can take a proactive approach by educating employees about their rights under the FMLA and SB 848. This includes raising awareness about the available leaves and ensuring that working mothers are informed about their entitlements, promoting a more inclusive and supportive workplace.


As California leads in shaping progressive workplace policies, employers play a crucial role in creating environments that empower and support working mothers. By embracing the provisions of the FMLA and SB 848 and implementing supportive policies, employers contribute to the well-being and success of their workforce. Nurturing a workplace that values and supports working mothers is not just a legal obligation but a strategic investment in fostering a positive and resilient organizational culture.

If you have any questions regarding your company's policies or need guidance on California employment law, contact the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke and schedule a consultation. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of employment law with confidence.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. 

About the Author

Catherine Chukwueke

Catherine (“Cathy”) Chukwueke is the Owner and Principal Attorney of the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke, a law firm focusing on labor and employment matters and workplace investigations. Ms. Chukwueke is passionate about helping people who have been mistreated in the workplace.

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