California has several laws giving women the right to maternity leave.These include the Family Rights Act, the Fair Employment and Housing Act and state disability law. The laws give mothers not only the right to take paid leave but the right to return to their jobs afterwards.

Paid Family Leave

Any California worker covered by state disability insurance is entitled to paid family leave. You can take up to six weeks of disability leave to bond with a new child during the first year of life. There's a seven-day waiting period before you receive benefits, and your employer can require you use up to two weeks vacation before claiming PFL. One of those weeks can cover the initial waiting period. Taking PFL does not, by itself, guarantee you'll keep your job.

Disability Insurance

If your doctor confirms that you're unable to do your job because of pregnancy, you can file for state disability insurance. You can claim disability coverage for up to four weeks before the birth and six weeks afterwards, provided the doctor certifies you need it. If your doctor says you need a longer break, disability insurance will cover that as well. When your disability insurance period expires, you can transfer to paid family leave.

Family Rights Act

All companies doing business in California with 50 or more employees are covered by the CFRA, which is similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Like the FMLA, the CFRA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave to care for a sick family member or to bond with a newborn child. California employees qualify for CFRA leave if they have at least 12 months with the employer, and put in more than 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. After CFRA leave, you are usually entitled to return to your job. You can take CFRA leave concurrently with your PFL, so that your job is protected.


If you take paid family leave, the federal government treats it as taxable income, like wages. California, however, does not tax PFL. Disability insurance payments for maternity leave aren't taxable at either the state or federal level. The state will send out a 1099-G form giving employees who take PFL the amount of income to report to the IRS. You don't send the 1099 to the IRS -- you keep it for your records, and report the information on your 1040.