A new law in California singed last month requires employers (with 5 or more employees) to continue group health insurance coverage for up to 16 weeks. SB 299 tyakes effect January 1. Another law, A.B. makes it illegal to deny an employees pregnancy rights. While you will be able to “recover” premiums if the employee fails to return to work, that means you are now in the position of doing collections on an ex-employee.
There is a great summary from buck research available at http://www.buckconsultants.com/buckconsultants/portals/0/documents/PUBLICATIONS/Newsletters/FYI/2011/FYI-110411-CA-Requires-Empers-Maintain-Health-Coverage-for-Emps-on-Preg-Disabil-Leave.pdf