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California Family Rights Act

The California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond with their new child or to care for themselves or another family member who has a serious medical condition. In order to be eligible for the CFRA, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 1,250 hours and they also must have worked for at least 12 months with that employer. Another condition to be eligible for CFRA is that your employer must have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the employer’s place of employment. If your employer has less than 50 employees, you may instead be eligible for California’s New Parent Leave Act (see below).

Employees can take CFRA leave as long as they have a qualifying reason to do so. However, you must give your employer a certification from your health-care provider that states your need for leave in writing. In addition, CFRA leave can be either intermittent or continuous. It’s important to note that an employee who takes CFRA leave does have certain job protections and benefits that continue throughout the time they are out on CFRA leave.

Under the CFRA, the employee must provide reasonable notice to their employer advising them of the employee's need for family care or medical leave, including the expected time that the employee will take off as well as the length of time that the employee will take off. Typically, this notice must be given to the employer within 30 days before the leave is to begin, unless the employee can show that the 30 days’ notice was not reasonably possible under the circumstances. The notice can be verbal or in writing, but the employee does not have to identify the legal reasons for taking the leave. Also, your employer cannot require you to disclose your actual medical diagnosis, but they should ask you for information necessary for them to decide whether you are entitled to the leave.

Upon your return to work, your employer must return you to the same or comparable job position. Under the law in California, a “Comparable job” means a job that is the same or close to your former job in responsibilities, duties, pay, benefits, working conditions, and schedule. It must be at the same or a nearby worksite. However, an employer is not required to reinstate the employee if the employee cannot perform her job duties after the end of the protected medical leave.

According to the courts in California, there are two different situations that may lead to you having a case under the CFRA. The first situation is when your employer interferes, or prevents you from taking the requested leave of absence. The second situation is when the employer retaliates or discriminates against you for taking the leave.

California's New Parent Leave Act (“NPLA”)

California's “New Parent Leave Act” went into effect on January 1st 2018. The NPLA expands the protections under the CFRA, making it eligible to employees who work at companies with 20 to 49 employees within a 75 mi radius. The NPLA allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond with the employees' new baby. The 12 weeks of unpaid leave can be taken anytime during the first 12 months after the birth, adoption, or foster placement of the baby. In order to be eligible for NPLA, the employee must have worked for the employer for at least $1,250 and must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months.

California's Pregnancy Disability Leave (“PDL”)

California's Pregnancy Disability Leave law (“PDL”) protects pregnant employees by allowing them to take up to 4 months of leave for any mental or physical disability that is related to the employee’s pregnancy or childbirth. The employee’s disability must be backed up by the pregnant employees’ doctor in writing. Pregnant employees are actually eligible as soon as they are hired, so long as they work for an employer who has at least five or more employees.

Under the PDL, the employee’s disability leave is unpaid. However, you should know that if you qualify for PDL, you would also likely qualify for California Disability Insurance during the time that you are out on leave. PDL also provides job protections and benefits while you are on your leave. It’s also important to know that once you have used up all of your PDL, it may be possible for you to take additional leave under either the CFRA or NPLA. This additional leave is important for employees to bond with their new baby.

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