Work Leave Using the California Family Rights Act
Life is unpredictable. Whether you’re welcoming a new child into your family, caring for a sick loved one, or recovering from your own serious health condition, there are times when you may need to take leave from work. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is a state law that protects your job and health insurance benefits while you’re on leave for certain family and medical reasons.
If you’re planning for a future leave or need to take leave unexpectedly, you should understand your rights under the CFRA and ensure a smooth and successful leave experience. Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about taking employment leave using the California Family Rights Act, including who is eligible, what reasons qualify for leave, how to request leave, and your rights while on leave.
What Is the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)?
CFRA provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain qualifying events. While an employee is on leave, they will keep the same employer-paid health benefits they had while working. There are no changes to these benefits during their leave. Employees who take CFRA leave also have the right to return to the same job or a comparable job when they return from leave.
Who Is Eligible for CFRA Leave?
To be eligible for CFRA work leave, you must:
- Work for a covered employer,
- Have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, and
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before you take leave.
If you meet these requirements, you may be eligible to take CFRA leave.
Which Employers Are Covered Under the CFRA?
The CFRA applies to California employers with five or more employees. This includes private employers, state and local governments, and public schools. If you are eligible for CFRA leave, your employer must grant your leave.
What Are the Qualifying Reasons for CFRA Employment Leave?
You can take CFRA leave for any of the following reasons:
- To care for a newborn child, newly adopted child, or foster child;
- To bond with a new child during the first year after birth, adoption, or foster care;
- To take care of family responsibilities due to a spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, child, or grandchild being called to active duty in the Armed Forces;
- To recover from your own serious health condition; or
- To care for a designated person with a serious health condition.
A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition involving either:
- Inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility; or
- Continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider.
A designated person can be any person related to you by blood or someone unrelated that you consider family.
Is CFRA Like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
Yes, CFRA is like FMLA, but it offers additional protections to California employees. Both laws allow eligible employees to take unpaid leave from their jobs for certain family and medical reasons. However, there are key differences:
- CFRA allows employees to take leave to care for a designated person, while FMLA only recognizes spouses, children, and parents;
- CFRA applies to employers with five or more employees, whereas FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees; and
- CFRA requires employers to provide employees with written notice of their CFRA rights, while FMLA does not require this.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for leave under both laws.
How to Request CFRA Leave
To request CFRA leave, you must provide your employer with written notice at least 30 days in advance. If you cannot provide 30 days’ notice due to a medical emergency or other unforeseen circumstances, you must provide notice as soon as possible.
Your written notice should include the following information:
- Your name,
- The date your leave begins,
- The expected duration of your leave, and
- The reason for your leave.
You should also attach supporting documentation, such as a doctor’s note or birth certificate.
Once you have submitted your request, your employer will review it and determine whether you are eligible for CFRA leave. If you qualify, your employer will grant your request and provide a written notice of your leave rights and responsibilities.
What to Do If Your Employer Violates Your CFRA Rights
If your employer denies your request for CFRA leave or retaliates against you for taking CFRA leave, you may have a legal claim. You can file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department. You can also contact a knowledgeable Los Angeles employment attorney.
Do You Have Questions About Work Leave Using the California Family Rights Act?
Bibiyan Law Group, P.C.’s team of 20 experienced LA employment lawyers can help. Our practice is focused on handling California employment law matters, including family and medical leave denials, wage and hour disputes, and wrongful terminations. We have recovered millions for our clients with an aggressive litigation approach. Contact us today to discuss your case.