The California Family Rights 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 bonding
- 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
- For the serious health condition of the employee’s child, parent or spouse
- For the employee’s own serious health condition
The California Family Rights Act Statute has qualifications for both employers and employees. Employees also bear the burden of providing adequate notification, using the appropriate form, completed accurately.
CFRA covered employers are private companies “who do business in California” and employ 50 or more part or full time employees. Non profit and religious organizations must comply. 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). Covered employers must provide notice to employees of their rights under CFRA and this notice must be posted in a conspicuous area.
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. Break out your mapping software!
The employee must provide reasonable notice to the employer in advance of leave. The notice can be verbal. The notice must be at least thirty days in advance if the reason is foreseeable. Maternity leave is often very foreseeable, by both the employee and employer. No excuses!
During a CFRA certified leave the employer must continue all health benefit programs on the same basis as when the employee was working. The health benefit programs include but are not limited to: health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, pension and retirement programs, etc.
Many employers make partial contributions to these plans when employees are working. Although these payments must continue, the employee is still responsible for making her portion of the contributions. While working these premium payments are made pre-tax. While on CFRA leave the payments need to be made using after-tax dollars.
Employers may allow CFRA leave intermittently with limitations as the statute does not require that the leave be taken all at one time. There is a two week minimum leave time taken for baby bonding, adoption, or placement of foster care.
Certain medical forms need to be completed when leave is taken for the care of a seriously ill family member, or the employees own illness. The medical certification form needs to be completed by a licensed physician, and returned to the employer for verification. The CFRA medical certification form is not needed for baby bonding, adoption, or foster care placement.
Comparison between CFRA and FMLA
CFRA is a state law, which is administered by the 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). 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 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. FMLA applies to self, spouse, child and parents whereas CFRA also covers domestic partners and domestic partner’s child.
Second, 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.
Third, 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.
How an Experienced Labor and Employment Lawyer can Help
The CFRA makes it illegal for employers to refuse to give employees time off if they request it for covered family or medical care. If you are facing a family or medical problem and you are concerned for your job security, an experienced labor and employment lawyer from Kingsley & Kingsley can evaluate your case and explain your rights under the law. 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.