What You Should Know About California Leave Laws

California leave laws for employees used to closely reflect those of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. However, as of 2021 the laws regarding employee leave have changed at the state level; the introduction of Senate Bill 1383 repealed the old California Family Rights Act and California New Parent Leave Act with a new set of rules regarding the who, what, when, and how of employee leave. This new law could have a substantial impact on employees across California, especially those who may need to take leave in order to take care of family members during the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more, talk to a knowledgeable employment law attorney today.

Who Does This Law Affect?

The new law, also known as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), now applies to all employers with five or more employees, expanded from the prior law that only affected employers with 20or more employees. A worker must be employed for 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours within the last 12 months in order to qualify for leave under the CFRA.

When Can a Worker Take Leave?

The new law also expands the reasons why a worker can take leave. Eligible employees can take CFRA leave to bond with a new child or to take care of themselves, a parent, spouse, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or domestic partner that has a serious medical condition. The expanded law also eliminated the requirement that a child be under 18 years old or an adult dependent, and a worker can now take leave to care for a domestic partner’s child or a child with a serious medical condition regardless of their age. The new law also expands eligibility to military exigency as a qualifying reason for leave.

Other Elements of the New Law

The new CFRA also includes other elements that may benefit California workers. For example, if both parents worked for the same employer under the old law, they could only take a combined 12 weeks of leave to bond with a new child. Under the new law, each parent is allowed to take twelve weeks of leave. In addition, under the old law key employees paid in the top 10% of the company could be denied reinstatement after taking leave. Now, key employees cannot be denied reinstatement, regardless of their pay or responsibilities.

Speak With an Experienced Employment Law Attorney

The new California Family Rights Act now applies to many workers previously not covered by state leave laws. If you work for a small business or are a key employee at a company, your rights to take leave to care for yourself or a family member have been substantially expanded. To learn more about whether you are covered by the new CFRA as a California employee or to discuss a potential claim against your employer for violation of leave laws, talk to a knowledgeable employment law attorney in your area today.