Child Loss & Grief

SB 848 – Understanding the new California miscarriage leave laws (& terminology)

Jessie Day, Senior Editor  |   25 Apr 2024


Before we get going, please note that some of the (mostly legal) language used in this feature carries a sensitivity warning. We’d support a review of certain terminology, but for the purposes of clarity, we’ll quote straight from the guidelines. 

As always, please pop into our DMs, for further support.

2024 miscarriage law in California – what should we know?

If you’ve been through it – or close to it – you don’t need us to tell you. Miscarriage is, for most, a devastating and challenging life event, both physically and mentally. 

Recognizing the need for compassionate support during this uniquely difficult time, California recently implemented an expansion to its bereavement leave rights – the Senate Bill (SB) 848. 

This new law is designed to provide grieving parents with time off work (in the form of protected leave), to cope with – and begin recovery from – their loss, and experience. It also stands to protect employees from termination, discrimination, and retaliation, for leaning into their rights.

Today, we’re unpicking a few key details hinging California’s miscarriage bereavement policy firsts and updates. Plus, what implications these may have for employers and employees, and the crucial work of building and nurturing a supportive workplace culture for anyone navigating pregnancy loss.

miscarriage law california

California miscarriage leave laws

Implemented in 2024, CA’s miscarriage law allows employees to take time off work to cope with the physical and emotional challenges of pregnancy loss.

The new legislation requires private employers with five or more employees – and all public employers – to provide reasonable support for employees experiencing ‘pregnancy-related disabilities’. 

We’re not happy with that term either. But in legal terms, it may include miscarriage. Let’s keep going. 

Under the new law, eligible employees are entitled to take up to five days of reproductive loss leave – you can take them intermittently – for every ‘reproductive loss event’, up to a total amount of 20 days of reproductive loss leave within a 12-month period.

What does this all mean in real terms?

By ‘reproductive loss event’, the law may apply to any of the following: 

  • miscarriage
  • still birth 
  • failed adoption
  • failed surrogacy
  • unsuccessful assisted reproduction (i.e failed IVF)

Employers

For employers, complying with California’s miscarriage leave laws involves: 

  • providing eligible employees with the necessary time off (and protection from termination, discrimination and retaliation, for using their rights) 
  • ensuring they’re aware of their rights and options

They must also maintain confidentiality and sensitivity when handling a request for miscarriage leave. And, make proper support available.

Employees

For employees, we’d recommend getting familiar with your rights (under California law), and opening a channel of communication with your employer – when you’re ready – about your need for miscarriage leave. 

Understanding any documentation involved will be very important – as well as any notification requirements – so try to speak to your healthcare provider and HR rep or department too, as soon as you can.

When is the SB 848 effective date?

The law came into effect on 1 January, 2024. It was introduced and helped pass by California Senator, Susan Rubio. 

On your watch list – Mother’s Day after miscarriage: What to do after a loss, according to a psychologist

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