Starting January 1, 2021, recent legislation greatly expanded the California Family Rights Act, which allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their own serious health condition; care for certain family members’ serious health condition; or to bond with a new child.  We strongly encourage all employers to become familiar with the following changes:

  1. Employers with 5 or more employees covered by CFRA: Until December 31, 2020, CFRA only applies to private employers of 50 or more employees. Starting January 1, 2021, CFRA applies to private employers with 5 or more employees.
  2. Worksite limitation eliminated: To be eligible for CFRA leave, an employee generally has to meet 3 requirements: have worked for the employer for more than 12 months, have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to their leave, and the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite.  Starting January 1, 2021, the worksite mileage requirement is eliminated.
  3. Circumstances for CFRA leave expanded: Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid CFRA leave to: (a) care for their own serious health condition; (b) care for certain family members’ serious health condition; or (c) to bond with a new child (by birth, adoption, or foster placement).  Although these three categories did not change, the types of family members for whom CFRA leave can be taken has expanded (see #4 below).  In addition, beginning January 1, 2021, CFRA leave may be taken for “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, as specified in Section 3302.2 of the Unemployment Insurance Code.”
  4. Types of family members expanded: Currently, CFRA leave may be taken to care for the serious health condition of a spouse, domestic partner, parent, minor child, or dependent adult child.  Starting on January 1, 2021, employees may take leave to care for additional family members, including: an adult child, a child of a domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling.
  5. Limitation on parents working for the same employer eliminated: Starting January 1, 2021, if both parents of a new child work for the same employer, each parent is entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave. Until December 31, 2020, employers may require parents to split 12 weeks of leave between them.
  6. Reinstatement Rights:  All employees who take CFRA leave have the same reinstatement rights to the same or substantially similar job position upon their return to work.  An exemption for an employer’s highest-paid employees is eliminated.

Employers must ensure that they are in compliance with the expansion of CFRA.  This legal update is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact our office so that we can assist you.

By: Rebecca L. Gombos, Esq.