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In addition to the federal leave requirements, California enacted the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

This requires employers in the state with 5 or more employees to provide eligible employees with unpaid family and medical leave. Below is a summary of the CFRA including eligibility, amount of leave, payments during leave, notice requirements as an employer, employee protections, enforcement, and more. For further details on all of the covered topics, please view the PDF below for the federal FMLA elements and California Family Rights Act elements.


Eligible Employees for California Family & Medical Leave

An employee must:
  • have at least 12 months of service with employer.
  • have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to leave.
  • be employed at a work site with five or more employees.

If ineligible, an employee may meet the 12-months of service requirement while on leave.


Amount of Leave for California Family Rights Act

An eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:
  • Birth of the employee’s child.
  • Placement of a child with the employee through adoption or foster care.
  • The employee’s own serious health condition.
  • The serious health condition of the employee’s child, parent, parent-in-law, spouse or registered domestic partner, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, domestic partner’s children, or, effective Jan. 1, 2023, a designated person identified by an employee at the time they request leave. The designated person can be any individual related by blood, or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. Employers may limit employees to one designated person per 12-month period.
  • A qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States.
Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 30 days are entitled to five days of bereavement leave upon the death of a family member as follows:
  • Leave must be completed within three months of the family member’s death.
  • Leave must be taken pursuant to any existing bereavement leave policy of the employer (so long as the employee is entitled to no less than a total of five days of bereavement leave).
  • Bereavement leave may be unpaid in the absence of an existing policy, but employees are authorized to use other leave balances otherwise available, including accrued and available paid sick leave.
  • The days of bereavement leave do not need to be consecutive.

If requested, employees must provide documentation of the death of a family member within 30 days of the first day of leave.

CFRA leave may not be taken for disability resulting from pregnancy- and childbirth-related medical conditions. However, an eligible employee may take CFRA leave when her pregnancy disability leave ends.

In addition, CFRA leave is subject to the following limitations:

  • Leave may be taken in one or more periods, but must run concurrently with FMLA leave if the employee is eligible for both FMLA and CFRA leave.
  • Employers may limit leave increments to the shortest period of time that the employer’s payroll system will allow.
  • Each leave period taken to care for a newborn child must be taken within one year of the birth and be at least two weeks in duration.

    Payment of Leave for CFRA

    Employers are not required to pay an employee during CFRA leave, but may be eligible for paid family leave through the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) Program.


    Other Types of Leave

    Employees may use, and employers may require employees to use, accrued vacation leave or other accrued time off (paid or unpaid) for family and medical leave purposes. However, employers do not have to allow employees to use accrued paid sick leave if the employee is taking CFRA leave to care for the serious health condition of their child, parent, parent-in-law, spouse or registered domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, domestic partner’s children or designated person.

    Employees may substitute leave taken pursuant to a short- or long-term disability leave plan (as determined by the terms and conditions of the employer’s leave policy) for an otherwise unpaid portion of CFRA leave that is for the employee’s own serious health condition. This paid leave runs concurrently with CFRA leave and may continue longer than the CFRA leave if permitted under the disability leave plan.


    Coverage Continuation

    During an employee’s CFRA leave period, employers must continue providing group health plan coverage under the same conditions as those provided prior to leave. However, employers are not required to pay for retirement benefits during a leave period.


    Notice Requirements for CFRA

    An employee requesting California Family Rights Act leave must provide reasonable advance notice with the reason and anticipated duration of leave. An employer may require at least 30 days’ advance notice when the need for leave is foreseeable. An employer must respond to an employee’s leave request no later than five business days after receiving the request.


    Certification Requirements for California Family Rights Act

    If an employee’s CFRA leave continues beyond the initial leave period, an employer may require certification and recertification. The certification must contain the date on which the condition began and the probable duration of the condition, as well as the following:
    • For leave to care for another’s serious health condition:
      • An estimate of the amount of time that the health care provider believes the employee needs to care for the individual.
      • A statement that the condition warrants the employee providing that care.
    • For leave to care for the employee’s own serious health condition:
      • a statement that, due to the condition, the employee is unable to perform the duties of his or her position.

    An employer may require certification to demonstrate and employee’s fitness to return to work, but an employer may not contact a health care provider for any reason other than to authenticate a medical certification.


    Reinstatement Rights after CFRA Leave

    After an employee returns from CFRA leave they must be restored to their previous position, or a similar position at the same location they worked prior to leave, along with the same amount they earned.


    Employee Protections for Family and Medical Leave

    Family and medical leave may not be considered a break in the employee’s continuous service affecting the employee’s rights to salary adjustments, benefits or seniority.
    In addition, employers may not:
    • Interfere with, restrain, or deny an employee’s exercise of or attempt to take leave.
    • Discharge, fine, suspend, expel, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against an employee who takes leave or gives information relating to any person’s right to leave.

    An employer may not retroactively designate leave as CFRA leave after the employee has returned to work, except with appropriate notice to the employee and where the employer’s failure to timely designate does not cause harm or injury to the employee.


    Enforcement of CFRA

    Any violation of CFRA requirements is considered an unlawful employment practice. If an employer violates the CFRA, an affected employee may file a complaint with the Fair Employment and Housing Commission. The Commission may require the employer to:
    • Hire, reinstate, or upgrade the employee, with or without back pay.
    • Pay damages for any injuries suffered, if the Commission files a civil action.
    • Refrain from committing any further violations.
    • Pay a fine of up to $25,000 for any discrimination.

    Employers may also be liable for any civil suit that an employee may file.


    Posting and Employee Handbook Requirements

    Employers are responsible for informing employees of their leave rights. Employers must notify each employee whether any paid or unpaid leave will be counted toward the employee’s CFRA leave entitlement.

    Employee Handbook

    Employers must include a description of CFRA leave in any employee handbooks that the employers provide to their employees.

    Required Poster

    Employers are required to post a notice that explains the CFRA’s provisions. The notice must be posted on the employer’s premises, prominently, in conspicuous places where it can be readily seen by employees and applicants for employment. If 10% or more of the employer’s workforce speaks another language as their primary language, the employer must provide the required notice in that language.

    For more information on all of these areas, please view the charts in the documents attached below.

    Call DMJ for a complimentary Benefit Plan Review and find out how he can better help you meet your requirements.


    333 N. Lantana Street, Suite 295
    Camarillo, CA 93010

    TEL: 805-751-6739

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    © 2017–2023 DMJ Insurance Services, Inc.

    Call DMJ for a complimentary Benefit Plan Review and find out how he can better help you meet your requirements.


    333 N. Lantana Street, Suite 295
    Camarillo, CA 93010

    TEL: 805-751-6739

    4 + 8 =

    © 2017–2023 DMJ Insurance Services, Inc.