Sick days and vacations are not the only reasons employees may take time off work. The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that allows eligible employees to take time off to care for family members with certain health conditions.
Along with the federal law, California also has the California Family Rights Act, which has recently undergone some new provisions, taking effect starting in 2021. Employees should understand what rights they have under this act, and employers need to know what the law entails so they give workers the proper time off when needed.
Current California Family Rights Act
According to the State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, an employee must work for a company for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours before becoming eligible for CFRA leave. For each 12-month period, an employee may take up to 12 weeks of work off to:
- Care for a spouse, parent or child who is severely ill
- Bond with a newborn, foster child or adopted child
- Care for him- or herself medically
Leave benefits for caring for a new child are for those who work for a company that employs at least 20 people, while the other benefits are for those in companies with 50 or more employees. Upon return to work, the employer must reinstate the employee to the same job or comparable one. During the time of leave, employees are responsible for paying their portions of any employer-sponsored health benefits. The leave time is also unpaid, or the employee can use sick or vacation time.
Changes to the CFRA
According to the National Law Review, one of the changes the governor made to the CFRA is that companies with at least five employees must provide leave for eligible workers. Starting in 2021, employees may also take leave to care for siblings, domestic partners, grandchildren and grandparents.
Because the FMLA covers employers in companies who employ 50 or more people, employees who work for larger companies may be able to take leave based on each act, allowing for up to 24 months of unpaid leave every 12 months.