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Great News! The California Family Rights Act Has Been Improved

  • On January 1, 2021, Senate Bill 1383 went into effect and greatly expanded the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”).  The CFRA is the law that provides qualifying employees in California with the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave from work to care for themselves or a family member with a serious health condition or to bond with a new child. The expansion made several impactful and beneficial changes to the law.  This article is here to get you caught up with the expanded rights created by the changes to CFRA, so you can have a better understanding of your rights to take family care or medical leave under CFRA.  Always remember however, when reading this article that other laws may apply also, so always consult with a qualified employment law attorney when attempting to understand your rights. There are numerous qualified employment law attorney Los Angeles, so if you live in California you can consult them.

    Expanded To Cover More Employers

    Previously, the CFRA applied to all public employers and private employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the worksite. However, with the expansion, the CFRA now applies to private employers with 5 or more employees, as well as all public employers. This vastly increases the number of employers that will now have to comply with CFRA, as before, many small employers were exempt from having to comply with the law. Thus, if you are considering whether to exercise your CFRA rights, determine if your employer has at least 5 employees. If so, you may qualify for CFRA leave, even if you employer has only five employees.

    Employees At Small Worksites Now May Qualify

    Before the expansion, to be eligible for CFRA leave, an employee had to satisfy three requirements: (1) have worked for the employer for more than 12 months; (2) have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the sought leave; and (3) the employer have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite. The expansion not only reduces the employer employee requirement from 50 to 5, but also eliminates the “75 miles of the employer’s worksite” requirement.

    More Circumstances Qualify For Cfra Leave

    Under the CFRA, an employee is eligible to take up to 12 weeks of CFRA leave to do any of the following: (1) care for their own serious health condition; (2) care for certain family members’ serious health condition; or (3) bond with a new child. The expansion did not change or eliminate any of those categories. Instead, the expansion added a category for leave based upon a qualifying military exigency related to the covered active-duty status of the individual’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the armed forces of the United States.

    Additional Family Members Covered

    Previously under the CFRA, if an employee wanted to take CFRA leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, a qualifying family member included a spouse, domestic partner, parent, minor child, or dependent adult. Now, the expansion allows employees to take CFRA leave to care for all adult children (whether dependent or not), a child of a domestic partner, grandparents, or siblings.

    No More Limitation On Parents Working For Same Employer

    Under the outdated version of the CFRA, if a set of parents worked for the same employer, their employer could require them to split 12 weeks of leave between themselves. This means that they could not each take 12 weeks of leave to care for a new child. Now under the expansion, if a set of parents work for the same employer, they each are entitled up to 12 weeks of leave. If you and your spouse work for the same employer and wish to take leave to care for a new child, you are now each entitled to both take up to 12 weeks of leave to do so.

    Reinstatement Right Exception Eliminated

    Under CFRA, employees who take CFRA leave are entitled to be reinstated to the same or virtually identical role or position upon their return from leave. Prior to the expansion, there was an exception where an employer’s “key” employees were not necessarily entitled to reinstatement rights. However, with the expansion, that exception is eliminated. Every employee, regardless of pay rank, is entitled to reinstatement rights. As much as the expansion changed the CFRA, it also left many vital provisions unchanged. Here is what remains in place under the new CFRA:
    • What qualifies as a serious health condition remains unchanged. It includes an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either (a) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility; or (b) continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider.
    • CFRA leave does not have to be paid. Employer may pay employees while on CFRA leave but are not required to do so. However, employers are required to continue an employee’s health benefits during their leave.
    • An employee must provide the same amount of notice to their employer if they wish to take CFRA leave. If an employee’s CFRA leave is foreseeable, they must provide reasonable advance notice to the employer. If the employee’s need for CFRA is not foreseeable, then notice must be given as soon as possible.
    • Employers can still request that an employee requesting CFRA leave present a certification of their serious health condition from a health care provider. However, the health care provider cannot provide, nor can the employer ask for, the exact diagnosis.
    The CFRA remains a crucial law for employees and their families. It is never too late to familiarize yourself with the laws designed to protect you and your rights. Importantly, the CFRA can be complicated, so always contact a competent employment lawyer to explain your rights.  Find an employment law attorney Los Angeles to ask questions.

If you think you have been wrongfully terminated, or have had your rights as an employee violated, please feel free to contact