Taking time off from work for family or medical reasons can be a difficult decision, especially when it comes to job security.
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) protects your job when you take leave for family and medical reasons.
This blog will explore the details of the CFRA and what it means for California employees.
If you believe your employer violated your rights under the CFRA, we will explain how an attorney can help you keep your employment.
What Is the California Family Rights Act?
In California, your employment rights include job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) helps employees care for themselves and their loved ones without sacrificing job security and health insurance.
CFRA grants eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave in 12 months.
The law applies to employers with five or more employees and provides job protection, but does not guarantee pay during the leave period.
California Family Rights Act Eligibility
To be eligible for leave under the CFRA, an employee must qualify with three criteria:
- Work for a covered employer,
- Have an authorized family or medical reason, and
- Provide adequate notice to the employer.
If an employee meets these criteria, they may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave under the CFRA.
Criteria 1: Covered Employer and Work Time
To be eligible for CFRA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer and have worked for that employer for:
- At least 12 months, and
- For at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding the start of the leave.
A covered employer under the CFRA includes private employers with five or more employees and all state public employers.
Criteria 2: Authorized Family or Medical Reason
Under the CFRA, employees may take leave if they need time off for an authorized family or medical reason.
Reasons that qualify under CFRA include:
- To bond with a new child (by birth, adoption, or foster placement);
- To care for a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, or designated person with a serious health condition; or
- To care for their own serious health condition that prevents them from working.
A serious health condition means an illness, injury, or physical or mental condition involving inpatient care or continuing treatment by a healthcare provider.
You may wonder why the CFRA does not cover pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. A different law called Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) provides for pregnancy-related leave.
Criteria 3: Adequate Notice to the Employer
It is the employer’s responsibility to designate your time as CFRA-related before you return to work. Thus, you must tell your employer your intention to take leave and the qualifying reason.
Typically, that means submitting a leave request using the CFRA process in your employee handbook.
Some employers may require at least 30 days’ notice before the start of leave for planned leave. In any case, the law requires you to give reasonable notice of the reason for the leave.
California Family Rights Act vs. FMLA
The CFRA and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provide eligible employees with job-protected, unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons.
Both the CFRA and FMLA provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of leave in 12 months and have the same time-based work qualification.
However, there are two significant differences between the two:
- Coverage: The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees working within a 75-mile radius. The CFRA applies to employers with five or more employees, regardless of location.
- Qualifying reasons for the leave: The CFRA allows employees to take leave to care for the health of a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, or designated person. The FMLA limits care to a spouse, child, or parent.
The CFRA and FMLA provide employees with job protection during their leave. When they return to work, the employer must reinstate them to the same or equivalent position.
In summary, the CFRA provides more expansive coverage and additional qualifying reasons for leave than the FMLA.
How Can a California Employment Law Attorney Help?
An experienced employment law attorney can be a valuable resource in ensuring that your rights under the CFRA are protected.
Workplace Rights Law Group is an employment rights law firm based in California.
If your employer interferes with your right to family and medical leave, we can help you obtain the benefits and job protection to which you are entitled.
We will help you understand your rights and options for recourse. We keep our case numbers low to offer each client personal attention and provide a unique, tailored legal strategy.
We’ve been on the employer’s side before, so we know how they operate. Let us stand up for your right to care for your family without worrying about your job security, seniority, or health insurance.
Contact us today to get started.