Health Insurance for Pregnant Women and Women Recovering From Childbirth

Alert number: 
March 24, 2012

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.

Under the new law, a ‘willful’ misclassification occurs when an employer avoids “employee status for an individual by voluntarily and knowingly misclassifying that individual as an independent contractor.”

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.

Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center strongly supported passage of this bill.

Guidance for Workers

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.


You can find free information about pregnancy leave on our website.

Workers can also contact the Workers’ Rights Clinic at 415. 864. 8208 or at our toll-free number: 866. 864. 8208.

This alert is intended as an information source for clients and friends of Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. The content should not be construed as legal advice, and readers should not act upon information in this publication without professional counsel. This material may be considered advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.