New Law: SB 299
In 2011, Governor Brown signed SB 299, which requires employers to continue health insurance coverage for women who take pregnancy leave. This new law:
- applies to all employers in California with at least 5 employees, regardless of the employee's length of service, or full- or part-time status.
- provides that health benefits must be continued on the same terms for up to 4 months of leave for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
- took effect January 1, 2012.
Effect on Low-Wage Workers
Faced with paying out-of-pocket costs for medical care during pregnancy leave, many women were forced to delay or shorten their leave rather than lose medical benefits. Because of this new law, women will no longer have to choose between pregnancy leave and health coverage.
Health coverage during pregnancy leave is essential to the health and economic security of women and their families. Three quarters of women entering today's workforce will become pregnant at least once while employed, and they will generally remain in the workforce following childbirth.
Women who have been denied continued health insurance benefits during pregnancy leave can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year of the violation.