AB 1041 Signed: Expands CFRA to Cover Leave Taken to Care For Designated Persons

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is an Act that allows eligible workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave due to their serious medical condition or a family member with a serious medical condition. The term “family member” has for a long time been known to mean a child, brother/sister, spouse, father/mother, domestic partner, grandparent, or grandchild. This has now changed.

AB 1041 Expands CFRA

According to the CFRA, it is against the law for an employer with at least five employees to refuse to grant an employee a request if the employee meets specified requirements to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for family care or medical leave. Now the CFRA includes a “designated person” as one of the groups of people for whom an employee can take leave to care. 

Toward the end of September, the Governor of California signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1041, which expands the Family Rights Act to include a “designated person” amongst the people a qualifying worker can take leave to look after. Finally, California recognizes that the overwhelming number of households today include loved ones who are not biologically related. AB 1041 will take effect on January 1, 2023.

Who is a Designated Person?

Section 1 of AB 1041 amends Government Code Section 12945.2 to include a definition of the term “designated person.” This may be a person who is related to an employee by blood. A designated person is also a person who is not related to an employee by blood but who has a relationship with an employee that is equivalent to a family relationship. When an employee requests leave, they will identify this person. A designated person does not have to be designated in advance. However, you should note that employers can restrict a worker to a single designated person per twelve-month period. 

What if an Employer Refuses to Comply With the Law?

Too often, employers violate employee leave rights. For example, a California employer may deny an employee a requested leave because the employee did not provide at least 30 days’ notice of the need for leave in a situation where the need for leave was not foreseeable. According to California law, when the need for leave is not foreseeable, no amount of notice is necessary. Unfortunately, some employees do not realize they have legal recourse in cases where their leave rights are violated. If an employer refuses to let you take leave to care for a sick designated person, you may have grounds to sue the employer. Employers in California have no right to interfere with employees exercising or trying to exercise their protected leave rights. An employer also cannot discriminate against you for requesting or taking leave. If they do, you may be able to file a lawsuit for a leave law violation. 

Contact a California Employment Attorney

If you are a California employee and would like to learn more about AB 1041 or have been denied a protected leave or discriminated against for requesting or taking leave, reach out to a California employment lawyer near you.