California’s new law allows mothers to take 5 days off for ‘reproductive loss’

California is now one of the few states that offers protected leave for miscarriage, stillbirth and other types of loss.

Bloomberg reports that the SB 848 bill requires businesses to provide up to five days of leave for employees who have experienced “reproductive loss.” That includes miscarriage, stillbirth and unsuccessful surrogacy, adoption or IVF. The bill doesn’t require employers to provide paid time off during the five days but it does stipulate that employers cannot penalize workers for taking time off.

California is only the second state in the US to provide state-wide protected time off for reproductive-related losses. The other state is Illinois.

Joy C. Rosenquist, an attorney at Littler Mendelson PC in Sacramento, told Bloomberg that other states will likely follow in California’s steps. “Now that California has passed this law and put in place a framework, I do think other states are going to pick up the framework and adopt it.”

The US is behind a lot of other countries when it comes to paid parental leave. This new bill is a good step in the right direction but it still falls so short when compared to other countries around the world. Five days is an incredibly short amount of time but the fact that it’s also unpaid makes it worse. Moms from around the world share their maternity leave, paid leave and even the spectacular childcare options that other countries have on social media and it is mind-blowing to see how good they have it.

Studies show that women are susceptible to PTSD after pregnancy loss which emphasizes how important time off is when experiencing such heartbreaking loss.

Other leave options could be available under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act or medical leave laws but having a law that is specific to loss is important because it takes into account the different reproductive-related losses. The California reproductive loss leave bill also states that the employee should be allowed to use up to 20 days of loss leave per calendar year, if they experience multiple losses, and they can be nonconsecutive days.

Sherry Leiwant, co-founder and co-president of A Better Balance, a policy group that advocates for paid leave laws and other worker protections, also spoke with Bloomberg and said, “People have different ways of having children, and whenever there is a failure people should have leave to take care of that.”

The new law will go into effect in the new year, starting January 1, 2024.