California

Paid Family Leave Laws

Great news! There are several family leave laws that California workers can take advantage of:

  • Federal Family & Medical Leave (FMLA)
  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
  • California Paid Family Leave (CA PFL)

If you’re covered, FMLA and CFRA give you the right to time off and protect your job, but do not provide pay. 

CA PFL gives you cash benefits to help cover lost wages while you’re on leave, but does not protect your job. 

Generally, if you qualify for both, leave under FMLA and CFRA runs concurrently (at the same time). When taken at the same time, FMLA/CFRA leave can protect your job while CA PFL provides you with cash benefits. 

Federal Family & Medical Leave (FMLA)

FMLA provides leave to care for a:

  • Child (who is under the age of 18 or incapable of self-care due to a physical or mental disability)
  • Spouse
  • Parent (including a biological, adoptive, foster, or step-parent, or any other person who stood "in loco parentis” but not including a parent-in-law)

FMLA eligibility includes:

  • All public employers and private employers who employ 50 or more workers within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite. 
  • ​​Employees must have worked for a covered employer for at least one year and have worked for that employer for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months. 

FMLA provisions:

Up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for the following reasons:

  • For incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care, or childbirth
  • To care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, son or daughter, or parent, who has a serious health condition
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job
  • For certain needs in connection with a loved one's military deployment
  • If medically necessary, employees caring for a seriously ill loved one may be able to take this time in smaller chunks, spread out over time, rather than all at once

FMLA Protections:

  • Job and Seniority: Upon return from FMLA leave, nearly all employees must be restored to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms. Rare exceptions to this rule are explained here
  • Benefits: During FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s health coverage and continue paying any share of their health insurance premium under any “group health plan” on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work.
  • FMLA rights: An employer can’t punish an employee in any way for using their FMLA rights and can’t interfere with the employees ability to use their rights under the law.


How to apply for FMLA:

  • Notify your employer of your need for leave. You'll need to get your loved one's health care provider to certify their health condition and need for care. Your employer will then provide you with notices and forms to fill out and return to them. 
  • If you know in advance when your leave will start, tell your employer at least 30 days before that date. If you can’t do so or don’t know in advance, tell your employer as soon as possible.

Detailed information about Federal FMLA, visit the US Department of Labor website
But first, check out how the California leave laws expand on this coverage below.


CA Family Rights Act (CFRA)

CFRA expands on the Federal FMLA law with:

  • A broader definition of “family member”
  • Eligibility for more residents

CFRA provides leave to care for a:

  • Child of any age (biological, adopted, foster, stepchild, legal ward, child of your domestic partner, or a person to whom the employee stands “in loco parentis”)
  • Spouse
  • Registered domestic partner
  • Parent (biological, foster, or adoptive parent, parent-in-law, stepparent, legal guardian, or other person who stood “in loco parentis” to the employee when the employee was a child)
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild 
  • Sibling
  • “Designated person” (one person per year the employee identifies who is either related to them by blood or whose association with them is the equivalent of a family relationship)

CFRA eligibility includes:

  • Employees of any business with five or more employees and state or local government employees
  • Employees who have worked for a covered employer for at least one year and worked for that employer for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months. 

CFRA provisions:

Up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to : 

  • Care for their own serious health condition
  • Care for a family member listed above with a serious health condition
  • Bond with a new child
  • To address certain military family needs in connection with deployment

CFRA Protections:

  • Job and seniority: The employer is required to reinstate the employee to the same or an equivalent position.
  • Benefits: While on CFRA, the employee is entitled to continue their health insurance at the same terms they have while working. 
  • CFRA rights: The employer can’t punish the employee in any way for using their CFRA rights or interfere with their ability to do so. 

How to apply for CFRA leave in California:

Notify your employer of your need for leave. They will provide you with or direct you to the proper forms to fill out and submit. 

For the most current details about CFRA visit this page on the CA.gov website.

California Paid Family Leave (CA PFL)

CA PFL expands on the Federal FMLA law with:

  • A broader definition of “family member”
  • Eligibility for more residents 
  • Paid leave

CA PFL provides benefits while you take leave to care for a:

  • Child of any age (biological, adopted, foster, stepchild, legal ward, child of your domestic partner, or a person to whom the employee stands “in loco parentis”)
  • Spouse
  • Registered domestic partner
  • Parent (biological, foster, or adoptive parent, parent-in-law, stepparent, legal guardian, or other person who stood “in loco parentis” to the employee when the employee was a child)
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling

CA PFL eligibility includes:

  • Almost all private sector employers in California are covered, regardless of employer size
  • To be eligible, employees must have earned at least $300 in wages from a covered employer during a designated one-year period 
  • Self-employed people can opt in to a related program

CA PFL provisions:

  • Up to eight weeks of paid benefits to: some text
    • Care for a seriously ill family member as listed above
    • Bond with a new child
    • Participate in a qualifying event because of a family member’s military deployment

CA PFL Benefit Amount

Depending on the employee’s income, the weekly benefit amount is about 60 to 70 percent of their average weekly wage, up to the current maximum of $1,620 per week. The minimum weekly benefit amount is $50. You can estimate the PFL benefit amount you may be eligible to receive on the CA PFL Benefits Calculator.

CA PFL Protections:

CA PFL does not include job protection. But employees may qualify for job protection through CFRA and FMLA, which can be taken at the same time as PFL. So check with your Human Resources department about job protection before applying for PFL.

How to apply for family leave in California:

Notify your employer of your need for leave. They will provide you with or direct you to the proper forms to fill out and submit. 
For the most current details about CA PFL visit this page on the CA.gov website.

Note: The state, county, or city where you live may also offer short term (a few days per year) paid sick leave or paid time off that you may be able to use for caregiving. You can find short term leave information for jurisdictions in the state of California here.

​​Separately, the state of California provides rights to unpaid time off that are limited to pregnancy, recovery from childbirth, or parenting. You can find out more about these rights here. We include this information because one in four Americans is a member of “The Sandwich Generation”—adults who are providing care to aging loved ones while raising children. 

‍The information on this page should not be considered legal advice. Other protections may apply in your specific situation. 

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