California is one of several states in the United States that provides employees with pregnancy disability leave and family medical leave. These protected leaves can mostly be combined with paid benefits, which allows employees to have supplemented income while on leave. There are also cases in which the state’s protected leaves serve as a supplementary benefit to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
California has some of the highest numbers of employment law and protected leave-related statutes in the country. The majority of cities in the state also implement local sick leave rulings, which can overlap in many instances.
As an employee in California, you are entitled to leaves under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). But what does this particular law entail? This article will tackle the statute’s various regulations and eligibility requirements for employees, as well as the differences between the CFRA and the FMLA.
What is the California Family Rights Act?
The CFRA protects the right of qualified workers in the state to take family or medical-related leaves. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the local government unit that implements this particular statute. The CFRA provides specific regulations that ensure fair treatment for both employers and workers in terms of a worker’s absence due to family or medical reasons.
Employer coverage under the CFRA includes the following:
- Private employers who have 50 or more employees
- Public employers
Moreover, the law covers employees who fall under the following categories:
- Employees on companies’ payroll without any compensation given to them
- Part-time workers
- Commissioned workers
- Employees on leave who are expected to go back to work
If you or your employer fall under any of the above categories, the CFRA provides you with a variety of benefits such as:
- Continuous medical and dental insurance coverage
- Pension and retirement benefits
- A total of up to 12 weeks of leaves within a single year
- Continued accrual of seniority
- Protection from dismissal at work
What are the Different Regulations Under the CFRA?
Employers are obliged by law to give their workers time off for various health and family-related reasons, which may include the following cases:
- Personal illness
- Medical care for a relative who has a severe ailment
- Childbirth or adoption
However, they sometimes fail to provide employees with these types of leaves. Employees can file a claim against their employers in such cases. A CFRA-related lawsuit can hold employers responsible for possible breaches of the law.
The CFRA forbids employers from retaliating or discriminating against employees who uphold their right to file for leaves. This also applies to workers who have informed or testified to state authorities about their employer’s alleged violations.
Plaintiffs can also hold the following entities responsible for CFRA breaches:
- Multiple companies or firms, if they are joint or integrated employers
- Successors in the interest of their employer
Other key CFRA regulations are as follows:
- Employers should allow workers on leave to return to their current position, or an equivalent or virtually identical post. This entails a variety of factors such as payment and compensation.
- Employees must give employers sufficient verbal notice in order for the latter to be well-informed about their intention to file a family or medical-related leave. However, they do not have to cite the CFRA in their request. Employers must also ask their employees additional questions about their notice in order to verify whether they are applying for a CFRA leave.
- If an employee requests for a CFRA leave, employers should give their response within five business days.
- Employers are not obliged to give their employees payment while they are on CFRA leave.
- Employees cannot relinquish their prospective CFRA rights. Employers are also prohibited from persuading employees to do so.
- Employers should display posters that notify their employees of their CFRA rights in areas that they can be easily seen. They can also post these notices through electronic or physical means.
- Employers should translate these notices into other languages as long as they’re spoken by 10% of their workers.
What are the Requirements that Employees Must Comply With Under the CFRA?
In order for a California-based employee to avail of family and medical-related leaves, they must meet the following CFRA eligibility requirements:
- One year or more of employment under a covered employer
- 1,250 or more hours of service for their employer within the past year
- A workplace with 20 or more employees that is within a 75-mile radius
How Does the CFRA Differ from the Family and Medical Leave Act?
Both the CFRA and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) incorporate family leave-related responsibilities and rights of employees. However, there are a few significant differences between these two laws.
First, both statutes differ in how they view pregnancy. The FMLA covers employees on the basis of pregnancy as a serious health condition. However, the same cannot be said for the CFRA. State law entitles pregnant workers to a four-month or 16-week Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). This stipulation covers business entities that employ five or more workers and does not have a set period for employee eligibility. Moreover, CFRA-covered employees can take a 12-week bonding leave after their PDL ends. If FMLA-covered workers take their 12-week PDL along with the protected leave under the law, their health benefits will be retained.
The CFRA and the FMLA also regard registered domestic partners in different ways. The CFRA considers a registered domestic partner in the same way as a regular spouse in terms of family leave. As a result, these individuals can get additional family leaves under the law. But the FMLA does not cover registered domestic partners.
In terms of qualifying exigency of eligible employees due to their individual or family member’s active military duty, workers are given a 12-week leave for this particular case under the FMLA. Family members can be the employee’s spouse, child, or parents. These individuals should also be presently under the country’s Reserves or Guard, or be retired Armed Forces members. On the other hand, the CFRA does not provide workers with leaves under this condition.
Lastly, both laws have varying regulations regarding medical care for a sick or injured service member. Under the FMLA, an employee gets up to 26 weeks of leave for medical care of a relative who fell sick or got hurt during their active military service. However, they must take it within 12 months. Eligible workers will also get to keep their health benefits for the duration of the leave. However, this type of leave for employees will only be covered by the CFRA if the worker’s spouse, child, or parent is the service member in question.
Hire an Employment Law Attorney to Litigate CFRA Violations
The CFRA provides employees with mandated family and medical leaves. Thus, your employer should not refuse to grant you these particular leaves for family and health-related reasons. They should also not view these leaves as signs of tardiness or substandard work performance. Therefore, if you believe that your employer has failed to give you your rightful CFRA leaves or violated any of its regulations, then you can file a lawsuit against them and seek liability for these infractions.
For specific cases of CFRA violations, Mesriani Law Group’s seasoned employment and labor law attorneys can help you build a substantial case against your erring employer. Our firm has over two decades of experience in handling numerous labor law cases against a variety of businesses, companies, and other organizations. This only proves that we will handle your case to the best of our abilities in order for you to get your well-deserved compensation.