Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) vs. California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA)
With the employee landscape changing throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. At the time of its passage, among other findings, Congress recognized that:
- the number of single-parent households and two-parent households in which the single parent or both parents work is increasing significantly;
- it is important for the development of children and the family unit that fathers and mothers be able to participate in early childrearing and the care of family members who have serious health conditions;
- the lack of employment policies to accommodate working parents can force individuals to choose between job security and parenting;
- there is inadequate job security for employees who have serious health conditions that prevent them from working for temporary periods;
- due to the nature of the roles of men and women in our society, the primary responsibility for family caretaking often falls on women, and such responsibility affects the working lives of women more than it affects the working lives of men; and
- employment standards that apply to one gender only have serious potential for encouraging employers to discriminate against employees and applicants for employment who are of that gender.
According to the Department of of Labor (DOL) Congress established FMLA to help employers and employees:
- balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families, to promote the stability and economic security of families, and to promote national interests in preserving family integrity;
- entitle employees to take reasonable leave for medical reasons, for the birth or adoption of a child, and for the care of a child, spouse, or parent who has a serious health condition;
- accomplish the purposes described above in a manner that accommodates the legitimate interests of employers and in a manner that, consistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, minimizes the potential for employment discrimination on the basis of sex by ensuring generally that leave is available for eligible medical reasons (including maternity-related disability) and for compelling family reasons, on a gender-neutral basis; and
- promote the goal of equal employment opportunity for women and men, pursuant to such clause.
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) amended the 1991 California family and medical leave law to generally mirror the federal the Family and Medical Leave Act. CFRA (Gov. Code, § 12945.2) provides unpaid job protection rights for up to twelve work weeks of qualified family leave. The CFRA provides job protection benefits for qualified employees during many family leave scenarios including:
- birth of a child for purposes of bondingCalifornia Family Rights Act (CFRA);
- placement of a child in the employee’s family for adoption or foster care;
- paternity leave for fathers to spend time at home with a newborn, or to care for his wife during complication of pregnancy;
- the serious health condition of the employee’s child, parent or spouse; or
- the employee’s own serious health condition.
CFRA covered employers are private companies, including non-profit and religious organizations “who do business in California” and employ 50 or more part or full time employees. All government employers also must comply including state, county, and municipal organizations of any size (Federal government employers do not have to comply the California Family Rights Act).
CFRA covered employees are workers who have accumulated 1,250 hours of service during the last twelve months prior to commencement of the leave. The employee must have worked for the employer for the last twelve months. There must be fifty employees working for the employer within a 75 mile radius of the employee’s office location.
Differences between CFRA and FMLA
CFRA is a state law, which is administered by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). State legislation in 1993 changed the state law to generally conform to the provisions of the The Family and Medical Leave Act. FMLA is a federal law and is administered by the U.S.Department of Labor (DOL), Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division. Both CFRA and FMLA provide for leave benefits to workers to attend to their family responsibilities without losing their job benefits. However, there are some key differences between them.
- First, the eligibility criteria of covered employees and employers is more or less the same under both of the acts, however, FMLA covers ‘public agencies, private elementary and secondary schools’ regardless of the number of employees. CFRA on the other hand includes as the covered employee ‘any state, county or political / civil subdivision of the state and cities’ regardless of the number of employees.
- Second, FMLA applies to self, spouse, child and parents whereas CFRA also covers domestic partners and domestic partner’s child.
- Third, FMLA includes pregnancy related disability leave within the 12 weeks of leave that it provides. The CFRA, however, excludes any such leave from its benefits. However, it does guarantee a 12 week leave after child birth irrespective of any disability.
- Fourth, FMLA requires the employers to maintain the group health benefits being provided to the employees. The CFRA, however, requires the employers to maintain all group benefits being provided to the employees, not just health benefits.
- Fifth, both FMLA and the CFRA leave may be taken all at once or on a reduced schedule or intermittent leave basis. The FMLA requires the employer’s agreement for an employee to take bonding leave intermittently; however, the CFRA has different requirements. Under the CFRA, although employees do not need the employer’s agreement to take intermittent bonding leave, an employee may be required to such leave in two-week minimum increments, with an exception for shorter increments on at least two occasions.
California Employment Lawyers
If you were denied your job back after taking leave, or were denied your right to family medical leave, you may have a case in California for violation of your right to FMLA leave. Take advantage of a free initial consultation to discuss your specific case by calling the toll free number (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us regarding your case.
Kingsley & Kingsley
16133 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 1200
Encino, California 91436
Local: 818-990-8300 (Los Angeles Co.)