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More specifically, SB 299 requires all public agencies and private employers with five or more employees to continue to maintain and pay for health coverage under a group health plan for an eligible female employee who takes Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) up to a maximum of four months in a 12-month period. The coverage must be at the level and under the conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued in employment continuously for the duration of the leave.
Under the current pregnancy disability provisions of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers were only required to provide benefits for pregnancy leave to the same extent and for the same length of time as they would for other temporary disability leaves. Employers covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), meaning the employee had been employed for at least one year and had worked 1250 hours in the past 12 months and the employer employed 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius, had to provide continuing coverage during the twelve weeks of FMLA leave. The new law requires group health insurance continuation coverage for all employers with five or more employees regardless of how they treat other temporary disability leaves and regardless of FMLA coverage. Even recently hired employees at smaller employers will be entitled to paid health benefits for up to four months of the leave provided the employee is otherwise eligible for the health benefits or becomes eligible during the leave.
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