Maneuvering Through Maternity Leave

HR Speak is Confusing. It’s a whole different language full of options, but never advice.


My particular HR person at work is very good but still is not legally allowed to tell me what options I SHOULD choose, or even what would most benefit me, only what options there are available. Unfortunately, even she gets confused wading through the company benefits, VS the California state options VS the federal options sometimes. Especially since our home office is across the country from where I am located, and laws are different in many states.

HR: Gives you the tools, but it’s up to you to make the decisions

She sent me some PDFs on what the state and federal options were and the following is what I CHOSE.

Let me digress a bit here and tell you that I’m writing this because it MIGHT help someone else. I know that for a long time during my pregnancy, I was very confused and upset by schlepping through the muck before I got to information that I could understand. I was also incredibly hormonal and asking me to make important financial decisions in that condition was not helpful at all, but something that most new moms are initiated with. My Dr. and I had a lengthy conversation about it after an exam one day, and knowing what she thought helped a lot.

This California Family Leave Law Pamphlet has some awesome information in it and it’s essentially what helped me finally understand how the leave worked, and exactly what my options were, because there are quite a few.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-12-16-39-pmWith charts and tons of different outlined scenarios, this FINALLY made it incredibly easy to understand how the leave laws in my state work. It also provides information on pumping and breastfeeding mothers rights in California, which I knew already from several other forums, but is helpful none the less.

The following chart in Particular, helped me to understand how everything overlaps, which I was unaware of.

Did YOU know that you were covered for up to a MONTH before you give birth? I know I sure didn’t.

I chose to take the 6 weeks of State Disability Insurance, followed by the Paid Family Leave, neither of which offer job protection, so overlapping all of that, I opted for the 12 weeks of FMLA, which is no pay, but offers job protection while you are away. After working for my company for 5 years, they subsidize the disability for six weeks, so that I got paid 100% for the first six weeks.

They also paid out my vacation and sick time during the waiting periods. But be careful with this, because there are options to forgo the waiting period, so you need to let your company know what you have chosen, otherwise they pay you out over the top, and you could end up owing money back to the state… ask me how I know…

I was under the impression that it all worked hand in hand, seeing as how job security is on the line, but  the two entities don’t work together. Don’t assume that one knows what the other is doing, just make sure you make your choices very clear to your HR person.


I also have the option of Using CFRA, which is the California version of job-protected leave in two week increments (this is mandated by my company, it depends on your job whether you must take in two week minimum increments or if you can take it by the day) until the end of the first year. This is nice, because if Baby Wagon gets sick or injured, I can take time off (unpaid) without being penalized for it.

The moral of my story is: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Never take any vital information on face value. I was lucky enough to have several friends who have been in the same boat to help wade through the laws with me, but many people aren’t.

I hope this helps at least one person figure out how all this stuff works!



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