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Reproductive Loss Leave in 2024 - Compliance Tips for California Employers

December 29th, 2023 | 6 min. read

By Tony Calavitta

Reproductive Loss Leave in 2024 - Compliance Tips for California Employers

With 2024 just days away, a new mandate in California is about to transform the way businesses support their employees during some of life's most challenging moments.

Starting January 1st, 2024, California's Senate Bill 848 (SB 848) will require employers to provide leave for reproductive loss. While this groundbreaking law is a shift toward empathetic workplace policies, it does come with an array of compliance rules.

So, what does this mean for you as an employer in California?

Here at Combined, we understand the nuances of such sensitive legislation. Our team of HR experts is ready to help ensure your business not only complies with the law but also champions an accommodating work environment.

In this article, we'll guide you through the intricacies of this new leave law, including:

  • What SB 848 entails
  • What reproductive loss leave is
  • What the specific conditions and requirements for providing it are

By the end of this read, you'll have the necessary information to develop a strategy that seamlessly incorporates these changes into your company's culture.


Let's explore the specifics of SB 848 and how you can successfully lead your business through this evolution in employment law.

What is Senate Bill 848 (SB 848)?

An impending and pivotal piece of legislation in California, SB 848 is a new law that introduces the concept of "reproductive loss leave" as a new category of employee leave.

What is reproductive loss leave?

Reproductive loss leave is a designated period of time off from work that an employee is entitled to following specific reproductive loss events.

These events include:

  • Miscarriages
  • Stillbirths
  • failed adoptions
  • Unsuccessful surrogacy arrangements
  • Complications in assisted reproduction procedures

Note: reproductive events are not limited to the above list.

Under the new law, unlike bereavement leave which necessitates documentation to prove the death of a family member, employees are not required to submit any documentation to justify their need for reproductive loss leave.

Eligible employees can request and take this leave without the obligation to provide evidence for its necessity.

The law recognizes these incidents not just as medical or physical experiences, but as emotional and psychological journeys that can significantly impact an employee's well-being and performance at work.

The law recognizes these incidents not just as medical or physical experiences, but as emotional and psychological journeys that can significantly impact an employee's well-being and performance at work.

At its core, SB 848 recognizes the profound impact these experiences can have on an employee's physical and emotional well-being. By granting leave for this reason, the law provides a buffer for healing and processing grief, ultimately allowing employees to return to work feeling supported and ready to reintegrate. This shift in workplace culture, from productivity pressure to compassionate understanding, empowers employees to prioritize their health and well-being during vulnerable times.

This law, effective from January 1st, 2024, is a testament to California's commitment to supporting employees through times of personal hardship.

The basics of SB 848 – Eligibility, requirements, and more

SB 848 marks a significant change in California's employment laws, particularly in terms of who is eligible for reproductive loss leave and the conditions under which it is granted. Understanding these nuances is crucial for employers to ensure compliance. 

Employers must clearly communicate the following to their employees, ensuring that they are fully aware of their rights under SB 848:

Who qualifies for reproductive loss leave?

Under SB 848, employees working for businesses with five or more employees are eligible for state-sanctioned reproductive loss leave. Additionally, the law applies to employees irrespective of their employment status – they are entitled to this type of leave whether they are full-time, part-time, or temporary workers.

This inclusive approach ensures that a wide range of employees in California can benefit from this compassionate provision.

What are the duration and conditions for reproductive loss leave?

SB 848 grants employees the right to take up to five days of unpaid leave following a reproductive loss event. The law also accommodates the possibility of multiple reproductive loss events occurring within a year, setting a cap on the total leave at a maximum of 20 days within a 12-month period.

Designed to recognize the individual and varied nature of coping with reproductive loss, this provision allows flexibility – employees can choose to take this leave either consecutively or non-consecutively within a reasonable period (Note: employees are required to complete their reproductive loss leave within three months of the qualifying event).

Keep in mind, engaging in retaliation against an individual who chooses to take reproductive loss leave, including actions such as refusing to hire, firing, demoting, fining, suspending, expelling, or any form of discrimination, is considered an illegal employment practice.

How does reproductive loss leave integrate with existing leave policies?

Another key component of SB 848 is its intersection with existing leave policies. The law allows employees to use their accrued sick leave, vacation, or other paid time off in conjunction with the reproductive loss leave. This means that while the leave itself is primarily unpaid, employees have the option to utilize their existing paid leave benefits to maintain financial stability during their time off.

Key Takeaway:

By understanding and implementing these eligibility and leave conditions, employers in California can effectively support their employees while adhering to the legal requirements of SB 848.

What does the introduction of SB 848 mean for employers?

SB 848 kicks in on January 1st, 2024, requiring California employers to adapt their practices to embrace reproductive loss leave.

This involves each of the following:

The policy prep: Old vs. new workplace practices

To comply, employers must not only review existing HR policies and employment contracts but also potentially revise them to ensure compliance with the law's requirements. This includes clearly outlining the conditions under which reproductive loss leave is granted and ensuring that these terms are communicated effectively to all employees.

HR departments will need to be well-versed in the nuances of the law to manage leave requests appropriately and maintain accurate records for compliance purposes.

The balancing act: Employee support vs. business operations

Implementing SB 848 will require employers to strike a delicate balance between providing compassionate support to employees and ensuring the smooth functioning of business operations. This may involve arranging temporary coverage for employees on leave or adjusting project timelines to accommodate their absence.

Employers should approach these situations with empathy and flexibility, recognizing the importance of supporting employees through personal hardships while also keeping business needs in mind.

The privacy protocol: Handling personal data vs. discretion

Confidentiality is paramount when handling any employee information related to reproductive loss leave. Employers must ensure that all personal data and circumstances surrounding an employee's leave are kept strictly confidential. This responsibility extends to HR personnel and any other staff who may be privy to such sensitive information.

To maintain privacy and respect the sensitive nature of reproductive loss, employers should establish clear protocols for handling such information. This includes secure record-keeping, limiting access to authorized personnel only, and training staff on the importance of confidentiality in these matters.

By creating a respectful and private environment, employers not only comply with legal requirements but also foster a culture of trust and support within the workplace.

Want more information on all of 2024's most critical compliance updates?

Download our free compliance guide or watch our latest recorded webinar hosted by legal expert, Jason T. Yu, Partner with the law offices of Snell and Wilmer, for a complete breakdown of California's recent regulation changes. 

How to comply with SB 848 – A complete checklist for California employers

Employers must be diligent in adhering to the requirements of SB 848, as failure to do so could result in legal repercussions, including fines and potential civil liabilities. This underscores the importance of a thorough understanding and implementation of the law within your business practices.

By adhering to this checklist, you can guarantee that your business not only aligns with California's new SB 848 requirements but also cultivates a supportive and empathetic work environment.

Understand SB 848

  • Familiarize yourself with the specifics of SB 848.
  • Recognize the events that qualify for reproductive loss leave.

Update HR training

  • Train your HR team on the nuances of SB 848.
  • Prepare them to handle leave requests sensitively.
  • Implement strict protocols to protect the privacy of employees taking reproductive loss leave.

Review and revise policies

  • Examine existing HR policies and employment contracts.
  • Update them to include reproductive loss leave provisions as per SB 848.
  • Ensure reproductive loss leave is correctly integrated with other leave policies.

Develop communication strategies

  • Create a plan to inform all employees about the new leave entitlements.
  • Ensure the communication is clear, empathetic, and comprehensive.

Implement record-keeping protocols

  • Set up a system for accurate and confidential record-keeping of reproductive loss leave.

Next steps for complying with California’s new reproductive loss leave law

Throughout this article, we've equipped you with essential knowledge about SB 848, from understanding its basics to preparing for its implementation.

But adapting to these changes involves more than just awareness – it requires action. And, with the January 1, 2024, deadline quickly approaching, fast action at that.

Here at Combined, our dedicated team of HR professionals is at-the-ready to assist you with the complexities of SB 848 compliance. We're committed to helping you make this transition as smooth as possible.

Ready to position your business at the forefront of compliance in 2024?

Take action today!

Ready to position your business at the forefront of compliance in 2024?Take action today!
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This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.