HR Management & Compliance

Ask the Expert: Should Paid Disability for Maternity Leave Be Extended to Men?

Question: We have many offices throughout the United States. Several states offer short-term disability (STD) programs for maternity leave after the birth of the child. Some do not. If we were to offer a company paid equivalent in the states which do not offer a STD for this time period, would it be a discriminatory practice if we don’t offer it to males as well?

maternity leave

Answer from the experts at

Thank you for your inquiry regarding paid disability leave for pregnant employees.

If the short-term disability (STD) program is based on a pregnant employee’s disability or medically related needs, it may be made available only to employees who are disabled by pregnancy, or who have medical needs related to pregnancy and childbirth.  However, paid leave that is based on an employee’s status as a new parent should be made available to both male and female employees.

For example, in California, state law requires employers to provide unpaid pregnancy disability leave for an employee who is disabled by pregnancy.  It applies only during the time the employee is disabled by pregnancy, which typically includes the 6-8 weeks following delivery.

An employee whose spouse or partner is disabled by pregnancy is not eligible for the leave.  However, he or she may be able to use other kinds of leave, such as paid family leave (PFL). Information regarding PFL and other leave is available on HR.BLR under the topic “Leaves of Absence (FMLA) – California.”  A portion of the analysis is copied below:

With the PFL program, California provides PTO for workers to provide care for a child, spouse, parent, or registered domestic partner with a serious health condition, or to bond with a new child (newborn, adopted, or foster care child). PFL allows most California workers to receive up to a 55 percent wage replacement benefit for 6 weeks in a 12-month period. PFL benefits are not available for the employee’s own medical condition. PFL does not create leave entitlement or provide job protection.

We hope this information is helpful, and we thank you for your inquiry.