New California DFEH App Regarding Baby Bonding and Pregnancy-Related Disability Leave

Date   Mar 26, 2021

On March 24, 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) issued a press release introducing the new app it developed in partnership with technology company Neota Logic and students from the University of California, Irvine. The free and interactive app is designed to guide California employees on how to obtain job-protected leave to bond with a new child or for a pregnancy-related disability.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) requires covered employers to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to bond with a new child, while California's Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) may provide up to four months of leave for a pregnancy-related disability. However, whether an employer is "covered," the employee's eligibility, and the amount of leave depends on certain requirements and qualifying events under the applicable laws, and may be a source of confusion to employees and employers as many individuals often do not understand the legal framework that provides the basis for job-protected leave. DFEH's new app is intended to simplify the process.

What this app does:

DFEH's free app has an easy-to-use interface that requires the user to answer a series of yes or no questions and select one of several pre-determined options. The entire process takes less than five minutes, and the user is provided a customized report that summarizes the employee's eligibility for leave and the amount of leave to which the employee may be entitled. The report also offers guidance on how the leave can be taken, the employee's obligations to the employer, the employer's obligations to the employee, F.A.Q.s and links to additional resources.

While designed for employees, employers may also take advantage of the app to verify whether their current leave policies are consistent with California law. With the constantly developing nature of employment law, an employer's leave policies may become outdated in just a few short years, and this app could be a useful and quick reference for employers at no cost. In fact, an employer can ask the employee to provide a copy of their custom report at the time the employee seeks leave. (The user's input is also saved in the report for verification purposes.)

What this app does not do:

The app appears to be an easy-to-reference guide to California law governing baby bonding or pregnancy-related disability leave. It provides the employee's eligibility, the maximum amount of leave for which an employee may qualify, and a general summary of the employee's rights. It does not, however, provide guidance for obtaining job-protected leave for other qualifying events under the CFRA, such as for the employee's own serious health condition, to care for a seriously ill family member, or other qualifying exigencies relating to a close family member's military service.

More importantly, the app does not "manage," "process," or keep track of an employee's leave or return from leave, and is not a substitute for the employer's current HR policies. Employers must continue to maintain their own compliant policies and records, and utilize a system to keep track of each employee's eligibility consistent with state law. For example, the app does not track whether an employee previously took leave under the CFRA within a 12-month period, the length of which impacts the amount of leave for which the employee is currently eligible. Furthermore, although an employee may be eligible for a "maximum" of four months of leave for a pregnancy-related disability, an employee may be entitled to additional leave as a reasonable accommodation if the situation warrants it.

In conclusion, DFEH's app is a free and easy-to-use tool that can supplement an employer's leave policies for baby bonding or for pregnancy-related disabilities. The custom report may be a useful starting point for determining eligibility and obtaining a general summary of rights and obligations. While useful, the app is currently limited to determining eligibility for only two types of leave and is not a substitute for having lawful procedures for accommodating employees.

The free DFEH app may be accessed via the following link:

If you have any questions regarding the DFEH's app, incorporation of the app to your company's current leave policies, or other questions relating to the CFRA and PDL, please contact the authors of this Alert, Allison V. Saunders, Managing Partner in our Los Angeles office, at, or Jason Shon, Senior Associate in our Los Angeles office, at Of course, you can also contact the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.