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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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After further thought, What is a legal "leave of absence"?

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After further thought, What is a legal "leave of absence"?
Thank you very much for your followup question. However, I am not entirely sure what you are asking. Can you perhaps clarify?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

You just answered my question regarding part-time employee pregnancy legalities. And mentioned leave of absence. What is a legal leave of absence in the area of a pregnant employee?

Thank you for clarifying. I am most certainly aware of your other question but I just didn't know exactly what you are asking. My apologies

As I noted in my other answer, no legislative act specifically mandates employers with less than 5 employees to provide protected leave to pregnant workers. However, as the California Constitution prohibits discrimination or preferential treatment on the basis of gender, which arguably encompasses pregnancy, you want to make sure you don't treat a pregnant employee any different than you would any other employee who needed to miss work for a medical condition. In general, this means providing a "reasonable accommodation" for the pregnancy.

There is no strict definition for what this means, as "reasonable" accommodations hinge entirely on the unique circumstances of the business and employment. In general, a reasonable accommodation is anything that does not impose undue hardship or expense. That too is a bit vague, but at least provides some basic instruction. If you can get by for 3-4 weeks without this pregnant employee working and that does not significantly impact your business, then you would be well advised to permit that time off so as to mitgate the posisibility of a discrimination charge pursuant to Article I, § 8. However, once you can argue that permitting additional time off would result in undue hardship, for whatever reason, your obligations to accommodate this pregnant employee extinguish.

That is the extent to which you are require to permit a leave of absence. Of course, this leave of absence need not be paid.

Please let me know if I can provide futher clarification.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Therefore, you would advise to give this person time off, get by 3-4 weeks. Then, if I can argue it is due hardship on our company to extend more time I could extinguish employment.


 


Then, do I offer a leave of absence? And for what duration to the employee?


 


Does her short time working here make a difference?


 


 

Thanks again for your reply.

Really the only requirement here is to accommodate the employee to the extent that so doing does not impose an undue hardship on your business. There are no black and white rules or set periods of "protected leave" which apply. The 3-4 weeks I mentioned was just by example. If it would be a hardship to your company to not have this employee for 3-4 weeks, you can terminate their employment if they need to be off for that long.

You do not need to offer a "leave of absence." The leave I am talking about is the leave of absence. Again, you only have to accommodate this pregnant employee to the extent that you are not incurring undue hardship. I realize that's a bit of an ambiguous standard, but the laws that provide more specific leave entitlements do not apply to an employer of your size.
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