California Family Leave: Understanding Your Benefits and Rights

Discover everything you need to know about California Family Leave, including eligibility, benefits, and how Waltman Employment Law can assist you.

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Overview of California Family Leave

California offers strong protections and benefits through various family leave laws, which are important for both employees and employers to understand.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave within a 12-month period. This applies to employers with five or more employees. Paid Family Leave (PFL) allows workers to receive 60-70% of their wages for up to 8 weeks, funded by contributions from California workers through State Disability Insurance (SDI). Family leave can be used for several reasons, such as caring for a family member with a serious health condition, bonding with a new child, or dealing with a family member’s military deployment. SB 1383 has expanded these protections to cover more workers, including those at small businesses with at least five employees.

Federal protection through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) complements state laws, providing similar job-protected leave, usually without pay. To qualify for these benefits, employees must meet specific criteria, such as contributing to SDI and working for a covered employer.

At Waltman Employment Law, we are committed to helping you understand and exercise your rights under California’s family leave laws. Contact us today to ensure you are fully informed and protected.

Employers must comply with these regulations to ensure eligible employees can access their entitled leave benefits. Failure to do so can result in legal consequences and disrupt workplace harmony. Understanding these laws helps maintain a balanced and fair working environment, benefiting both employees and businesses in California.

California Family Leave: What You Need to Know

California offers several family leave programs to provide job protection and financial support during significant life events. Here’s a simple breakdown:

Paid Family Leave (PFL):

  • PFL offers partial wage replacements, providing 60-70% of your wages for up to eight weeks.
  • Funded entirely by workers through State Disability Insurance (SDI) contributions. You can verify your contributions by checking your pay stub for a “CA SDI” deduction.
  • PFL can be used for bonding with a new child, caring for a seriously ill family member, or dealing with certain military-related events.
  • Check eligibility here.

California Family Rights Act (CFRA):

  • CFRA provides 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave each year.
  • To qualify, you must have worked for the employer for at least one year, worked at least 1,250 hours in the past year, and the employer must have at least five employees.
  • This leave can be used for bonding with a new child, caring for a serious health condition, or a family member’s illness.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA):

  • FMLA is a federal law providing similar protections to CFRA but applies to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.
  • FMLA also provides 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for similar reasons as CFRA, but usually without wage replacement.

Eligibility Requirements:

Paid Family Leave (PFL):

  • Must have contributed to SDI via payroll deductions.
  • Must have a qualifying reason, such as a new child or family illness.

California Family Rights Act (CFRA):

  • Must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months.
  • The employer must have five or more employees.
  • Must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past year.

Understanding these leave programs is essential for maintaining job security while addressing important personal or family needs.

Need Help? If you have questions or need assistance navigating these laws, contact Waltman Employment Law today. We are dedicated to helping you understand and exercise your rights under California’s family leave laws.

Ensuring compliance with these regulations is crucial for employers, as failure to do so can lead to legal consequences and workplace disruptions. These laws help maintain a balanced and fair working environment, benefiting both employees and businesses in California.

Application Process

Applying for California Family Leave involves several steps. To begin, it’s essential to review your eligibility. You can find eligibility criteria on the EDD website.

Next, gather necessary documentation, including proof of income, a doctor’s note for any serious health condition, or documentation of a qualifying event.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Review Your Eligibility: Ensure you’ve earned at least $300 in wages subject to SDI deductions.
  2. File Your Claim: Submit your claim online at for the fastest processing. This will allow for a smoother and quicker experience.
  3. Attach Additional Documents: Include any additional documentation, such as medical certifications or proof of a family member’s military deployment.

Tips for a Smooth Application

  • Double-check information: Ensure all details are accurate and complete.
  • Meet All Deadlines: Submit your application within the required timeframe, typically within 41 days of the event.
  • Keep Copies: Retain copies of all submitted documents for your records.

Common Challenges and Solutions

  • Incomplete Applications: Double-check for missing information or documents. This is a frequent cause of delays.
  • Delayed Processing: Applying online minimizes delays. It’s faster and more streamlined than mailing your application.
  • Income Verification: Sometimes discrepancies occur. Ensure your employer’s payroll details match your submission.

By following these steps and mitigating common issues, you can efficiently navigate the California Family Leave application process and ensure timely benefit payments.

How Waltman Employment Law Can Help

Waltman Employment Law is dedicated to helping employees navigate the complexities of family leave laws. Whether you need assistance understanding your eligibility, filing for Paid Family Leave (PFL), or ensuring job protection under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), we are here to support you. 

Our experienced team can guide you through the application process for State Disability Insurance (SDI) and help you gather the necessary documentation. If you face any retaliation or challenges from your employer for taking family leave, we will represent you and protect your rights. Contact Waltman Employment Law today to ensure you receive the benefits and protection you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)?

The CFRA is a California law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specific family and medical reasons.

Who is eligible for CFRA leave?

To qualify, employees must have at least 1,250 hours of service with their employer during the past 12 months and work at a location with 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

What reasons can CFRA leave be taken for?

CFRA leave can be taken for the birth of a child, adoption, foster care placement, a serious health condition of the employee, or to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.

Is CFRA leave paid?

CFRA does not require paid leave; however, employees may use accrued paid leave, such as vacation or sick time, during their CFRA leave. In some cases, Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits may be available.

How does CFRA interact with Paid Family Leave (PFL)?

While CFRA provides job protection for unpaid leave, PFL offers wage replacement benefits for employees taking time off for specified family reasons. These programs can overlap, providing both job security and financial assistance.

Can CFRA leave be taken intermittently?

Yes, CFRA allows for intermittent or reduced-schedule leave when medically necessary.

How do I apply for CFRA leave?

Employees must provide 30 days advance notice when the need for leave is foreseeable. If not, they should notify their employer as soon as possible. Employers may require certification from a healthcare provider.

Does CFRA apply to same-sex spouses?

Yes, CFRA provides leave rights for same-sex spouses in the same manner as it does for opposite-sex spouses.

Can employers ask for a second opinion on a medical certification?

Employers may require a second or third medical opinion at their own expense if they have a reason to doubt the initial medical certification.

What happens to health benefits during CFRA leave?

Employers must maintain an employee’s existing level of health insurance coverage during CFRA leave under the same terms as if they had continued to work.

If you have additional questions or need personalized assistance, consulting with a legal expert is advisable.