As of January 1, 2021, Under SB 1383, California employers with 5 or more employees will now be required to provide their qualifying employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year, and also expands the scope of “family members”.

The CFRA originally applied only to employers with 50 or more employees who worked within a 75-mile radius. Under SB 1383 there will no longer be any requirement that the employees work within a specified radius.

To qualify for CFRA leave, the employee must have more than 12 months of service with the employer and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12-month period before the leave begins.

CFRA leave may be taken for the following reasons:

  1. the birth of a child or placement of a child with the employee in connection with an adoption or foster care(the definition of “child” will now include the child of a domestic partner and children of any age);
  2. to care for a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner who has a serious health condition;
  3. because of employee’s own serious health condition; and
  4. because of a qualifying emergency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States.

For employers with 50 or more employees, historically, the leave provided by the CFRA and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ran concurrently in almost all situations (usually except pregnancy). Now that the allowable reasons for leave have been expanded by SB 1383, it is possible that an employee will be able to take 12 weeks of CFRA leave in addition to 12 weeks of FMLA leave in any situation where the CFRA leave is for a reason not covered by the FMLA.

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The employee may elect, or the employer may require, that the employee take their accrued and unused vacation or PTO time for any of the reasons described above, as well as sick time for leave related to the employee’s own serious health condition. The employee shall not use sick time for the other reasons above unless mutually agreed by the employer and employee.

The CFRA will still require that the employer maintain and pay for group health coverage during the 12-week leave period in the same manner as if the employee had continued to work.

When an employer employs both parents of a child, the employer will now be required to provide each parent with 12 weeks of CFRA leave.

Before SB 1383, parents of the same employer had to share the 12 weeks of available leave.SB 1383 will repeal the New Parent Leave Act (“baby bonding”) that applied to employers with 20 or more employees. This section will be moot because the entire CFRA will cover all employers with 5 or more employees.

Small and large employers must update their leave of absence policies to reflect this change before the law goes into effect on January 1, 2021. Small employers who were not previously covered by the CFRA must now include the CFRA leave laws in their policies. Larger employers must revise their policies to incorporate the changes.

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