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What family and medical leaves are available to California employees?

California offers several different options for employees who need to take a family or medical leave. Each type of leave offers different benefits and/or levels of protection. Below we have provided a brief overview of some of the major programs available to California employees.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) - The FMLA is a federal program that provides qualified employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave. It is available for employees who: 1) need to attend to a serious medical issue for themselves or for a close family member or spouse; or 2) need time to bond with a newborn, newly adopted or foster child, or the child of a spouse or domestic partner.


•· The employer must have at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of worksite; the employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months; and the employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before the leave.

•· Serious Medical Condition - Must involve either an overnight stay at a hospital, hospice, or residential facility OR involve the continuing treatment by a health care provider.

•· Close Family Member - means child, parent, or spouse.

•· Bonding period - For a newborn, it has to occur before the child is 1 years old. For an adopted or foster child, it must occur during the first year of placement in the home but can occur at any age of the child up to 18.

•· The FMLA does not cover same-sex domestic partners.

California Family Rights Act (CFRA) - The CFRA is the state version of the FMLA.


•· The CFRA has the same requirements and restrictions as the FMLA but unlike the FMLA it does cover same-sex domestic partners but does not provide leave for pregnancy related conditions. The CFRA also provides more privacy protections then the FMLA.

Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDL) - The PDL is a state law that provides up to 4 months of unpaid job protected leave for pregnancy related conditions.


•· The PDL covers employees disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Unlike the FMLA and CFRA it is available to employees who work for any employer that employs 5 or more individuals. The law also provides for reasonable accommodations at work.

Paid Family Leave (PFL) - PFL provides income replacement if: 1) an employee pays into the state disability insurance program and 2) is taking a leave to attend to a serious medical condition of the individual or a close family member or a leave to bond with a newborn, newly adopted child or foster child.


•· PFL provides up to 6 weeks of partial pay (55% of weekly wage).

PFL does not guarantee job protection but may be taken in conjunction with FMLA or CFRA leave.

Leaves taken under the FMLA and CFRA run concurrently. Other leaves may be taken in succession. An experienced employment law attorney may be able to help with any family or medical leave violations by your employer.

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