On October 10, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 848 (“SB 848”), which introduces new provisions to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Effective January 1, 2024, SB 848 makes it unlawful for employers to deny eligible employees up to five days of reproductive loss leave following events like failed adoptions, surrogacies, miscarriages, stillbirths, or unsuccessful assisted reproduction. This leave must be taken within three months of the event, in line with existing leave policies, and may be unpaid in the absence of such policies. SB 848 also prohibits employer retaliation against individuals exercising this right, emphasizing the need for confidentiality regarding reproductive loss situations. Below are some key provisions of the Bill.
Definition of Reproductive Loss Event:
- SB 848 defines a "reproductive loss event" as the day or, for a multiple-day event, the final day of a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction.
Reproductive Loss Leave Entitlement:
- It is now an unlawful employment practice for an employer to deny an eligible employee up to five days of reproductive loss leave following a reproductive loss event.
- If an employee experiences more than one reproductive loss event within a 12-month period, the employer is not obligated to grant a total amount of reproductive loss leave time in excess of 20 days within that period.
Timeframe for Leave:
- Reproductive loss leave must be taken within three months of the reproductive loss event unless the employee is on another leave from work, in which case the leave must be completed within three months of the end date of the other leave.
Application of Existing Policies:
- Reproductive loss leave is to be taken pursuant to any existing applicable leave policy of the employer.
- In the absence of such policies, reproductive loss leave may be unpaid. However, employees are authorized to use vacation, personal leave, accrued and available sick leave, or compensatory time off that is otherwise available to them.
- Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an individual for exercising the right to reproductive loss leave or for providing information or testimony related to reproductive loss leave.
- Employers must maintain the confidentiality of any employee requesting leave under this section. Information provided to the employer regarding reproductive loss leave must be kept confidential, disclosed only to internal personnel or counsel as necessary, or as required by law.
The Legislature, in passing SB 848, recognizes the need to protect the privacy rights of employees facing reproductive loss. The legislation aims to strike a balance between the privacy interests of the employee and their family, and the public's right to access information.
SB 848 marks a crucial step in acknowledging and addressing the emotional and personal challenges associated with reproductive loss. Employers in California should promptly update their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with these new provisions, recognizing the unique circumstances and needs of their employees during such difficult times.
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.