SB 299

Effective January 1, 2012, all employers with at least 5 employees in California must maintain at the same level, and pay for, continued health care coverage for employees on pregnancy-related disability leave.  Previously, while California law guaranteed up to four months of leave due to pregnancy-related disabilities (also referred to as "maternity leave"), it did not require employers to continue an employee's health care coverage during the leave.  Such protections fell only within the realm of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which applies to employers with at least 50 employees, has employee eligibility requirements, and caps out at twelve workweeks.  Employers should now review their handbooks, stand-alone policies, and practices regarding pregnancy-related disability leave and continued health care coverage to ensure compliance with SB 299 in 2012.