New California Law Expands CFRA

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New California Law Expands CFRA

HR Professionals should take note of significant changes

— Covered family members now include adult children, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling
— Lowers private sector employer threshold to 5+ employees
— Covers leave for qualifying exigency related to active duty or active duty of an employee’s spouse, registered domestic partner, child, or parent in the U.S. Military.

September 17, 2020 — Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB1383 which makes noteworthy alterations to the California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA).  The new law will take effect January 1, 2021.  Notable changes:

  1. Expands CFRA leave to apply to any business with five or more employees (currently the law states 50+ employees)
  2. The 18 or under “limit” for children has been eliminated.  Employees may now take leave to care for a child regardless of age or dependency. Further, the definition of “child” now also includes the child of a domestic partner.
  3. Expands family members an employee may take leave for to include the additions of grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or domestic partner.
  4. Employees can also now take CFRA leave because of a “qualifying exigency” related to active duty, or the call to active duty, of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  5. Eliminates existing restriction that allows an employer who employs both parents to limit their total amount of CFRA leave for both individuals to a total of 12 weeks for bonding with a newborn child, adopted child or foster care placement.  This means where both parents are employed by the same employer and take CFRA bonding leave, they are now both entitled to a total of 12 weeks individually for such leave.
  6. Eliminates the “key employee” exception to an employee’s right to reinstatement which currently allows an employer the ability to deny reinstatement to an employee who takes CFRA leave where the employee is among the highest paid 10% of the employer’s employees.

As a result of these new additions, leave taken to care for an individual who falls into one of these new categories is not covered by FLMA.  As such, an employee could take 12 weeks of FMLA leave to care for a child or spouse, and then take an additional 12 weeks of leave under the CFRA to care for a sick grandchild or sibling.

Because both leaves are protected, the employee would be entitled to his or her job back upon return after potentially having been away for six months. In addition, while that leave is still unpaid, the employer must continue to provide benefits such as health insurance to the employee during this time.

For more information:

— State of California Press Release “Governor Newsom Signs SB 1383 (Jackson) to Provide Job-Protected Paid Family Leave to More California Workers

— Read: Senate Bill 1383

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