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CA - When to tell employer, if not planning to return after leave?

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  • CA - When to tell employer, if not planning to return after leave?

    I am currently scheduled to begin my maternity leave at the end of May. My employer will not be paying any health coverage (I have been informed that I must go on COBRA) or wages during that time. I will be filing for CA SDI, which I have read will give me about 55% pay for up to 4 weeks prior and 6 weeks after my baby's birth. I have not discussed this with my employer but I am seriously considering becoming a stay-at-home mom and not returning to my current job after the baby is born. My question is, when is the right time to let my employer know this? If I apply for CA SDI and then inform my employer that I will not be returning, or if I tell them before I apply/go on leave, am I still eligible for SDI payment as is described above (4wks+6wks)? Or will I forfiet that?

  • #2
    Have you worked for the employer for a total of 12 months (at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months)
    Are there least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles?

    This will help us answer you.

    On SDI, CA bases that on past wages to calculate your pay and eligibilty. So having worked this year would qualify you to collect this.

    Having just been on maternity leave myself, I think you owe it to yourself not to make any decisions right now. I'd recommend that you should make the decision a few weeks after the baby is born. That way you still have the opportunity to go back if you like or you can still let them know you plan to stay home. My two cents.


    • #3
      When I start my leave I will be just one week away from my one year hire date anniversary. Since I have about a week of sick leave that they've asked me to take first, by the time I apply for SDI I will have been working at the company for one full year. There are only 21 employees.

      Thanks for your advice. Someone else suggested that I wait until after the baby and give two weeks notice two weeks before I am scheduled to return. I just want to make sure that I understand all of the legal/ethical ramifications of telling them sooner rather than later or vice versa. I guess, in some ways, it's too hard to know right now how things might change after the baby is born.


      • #4
        You are not entitled to FMLA with so few employees. So they don't have to hold your job for you legally, though they could do so.

        In California, here is how it will work for you. You can take CA SDI and they typically allow you to go out 4 weeks before the birth and then 6 weeks after the birth (doctor must certify and the time can be longer if the doctor certifies that it needs to be such as a c-section is usually 8 weeks). Ask your employer for the form. Apply using the date the doctor certifies. There is a 7 day waiting period before the benefit begins paying, so you can use your vacation pay here to be paid.

        At the end of the maternity leave the state will send you a form to return for an additional 6 weeks of pay. This is CA PFL (Paid Family Leave). Because you moved over to this from CA SDI the 7 day waiting period is not applicable. The maximum leave time of six (6) paid weeks within a 12-month period is allowed. The monies received through the plan are not taxed by the state (although they are federally). Form is available through here: or call 1-800-BETHERE. Your employer is required to give you the SDI form, but not the PFL form. As I said it should automatically come at the end of the SDI, but call them if it does not.

        CA PFL is for employers with one or more employees and if you qualify for SDI, you automatically qualify for this.

        If you are not returning to work, you may have to file this concurrently, meaning you have to go from SDI to PFL without any time of unemployment in between. In any event, you must claim no later than 42 days from the first day for which you may be paid due to the need to provide care or bond. If your claim is late you may lose benefits. Your claim under pregnancy is the date you become eligible to work following a live birth.

        So all told, you will be paid at least twelve weeks.

        Personally, I'd make my decision on returning to work towards the end of the SDI leave. I routinely would check in with my empoyees on maternity leave about a week or so before they were due to come back to determine a return date. I recently was on the other side and had a little girl. My own decision has changed a few times, so give yourself a chance to make the right decision for you and your employer. Answer that question once you really have more information under your belt. From an employer's side, they don't want to go out and train someone new etc. if you do decide to come back. I think that is the best ethical decision for everyone.


        • #5
          If you are not planning to return, SDI is taxable as payment in lieu of unemployment. If you are planning to return, it isn't taxable. I'm not sure they will go back and change it if say, decide not to return after you have used up your SDI. (PFL is always taxable.)
          Megan E. Ross, Esq.
          Law Offices of Michael Tracy

          Disclaimer: The above response is a general statement of the law and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It only assumes the facts that are stated in the message. The above response does not serve to form an attorney-client relationship.


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