You are here: Home Work Issues Family & Medical ... California Leave ... Summary
Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


The State of California has enacted laws providing both for unpaid leave (California Family Rights Act) and paid leave (Family Temporary Disability Insurance/ Paid Family Leave). Certain requirements and limitations apply. The other sections of this article provide a brief overview of both laws. 

If you are considering taking leave under one of these laws, it is advisable to consult with your Human Resource Office for additional details. Preferably speak with a supervisor to be sure you receive accurate information.

Researched and written by:

Lisa Gerson, Esq. McDermott Will & Emery LLP New York, NY 

Paid Family Leave Insurance

What Does The Law Provide?

Up to six weeks of wage replacement for workers who take time off to:

  1. Care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent (not including in-laws), or domestic partner, OR
  2. Bond with a minor child, if it is within one year of the birth, adoption or foster care placement.

How Much Money Will I Receive?

There is a seven day waiting period during which no money has to be paid. Wage replacement starts once the seven days are up. (The seven days to not have to be consecutive.) The sole exception is that if the employer has required the employee to use two weeks of paid vacation, one week of that paid vacation time will count as satisfying the waiting period.

The amount of wage replacement an employee can receive ranges from a low of $50 to a high of $840 per week, depending on how much you have been earning. To determine the amount, the state first looks at your highest earnings quarter over a 12-month period. Your weekly benefit will be approximately 55% of what you earned during that highest earning quarter. As an example, to receive the maximum of $840 per week, you would have had to earn at least $19,830.92 in a calendar quarter during the applicable 12-month period.

Who is Eligible For Paid Family Leave Benefits?

You are eligible for benefits on any day you are unable to perform your regular work because you are caring for a seriously ill family member or bonding with a minor child (as described above) IF:

  1. You are covered by State Disability Insurance (SDI). The size of your employer does not affect your eligibility for wage replacement. You will be covered as long as you contributed to the SDI program. However, Paid Family Leave insurance does not entitle you to leave, nor to job protection. Your employer must be covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or CFRA (below) in order to receive those benefits. (Basically, the California Paid Leave law is concerned only with payment while an employee is out of work -- not with providing an employee with the right to be out of work.)
  2. You make a claim for temporary disability benefits as required by the regulations; and
  3. You have been unable to perform your regular work for a seven-day waiting period; and
  4. You have filed a certificate as required by statute.

How Do I File A Claim For Temporary Disability Benefits?

You must file a DE2501F form, which you can order by calling 1-877-BE-THERE (the form is not available on-line). If your claim is related to caring for a seriously ill family member, you will also be required to provide a medical certificate (you will receive this certificate with the DE2501F). If your claim is related to leave to bond with a minor child, you will be required to submit evidence of your relationship to the child.

When Do I Have to File My Claim?

You must complete and mail your claim form no later than 42 days from the first day for which you may be paid due to the need to provide care or bond. If your claim is based on leave to bond with your minor child, you must make it within the first year after his or her birth, adoption or foster care placement.

What If I have Accrued Vacation Leave?

Your employer may require you to use up your accrued vacation days (up to two weeks), but may not require you to use your accrued sick days.

For more information, call 877-238-4373

California Family Rights Act (CFRA) -- Unpaid Leave

What Does CFRA Provide?

  1. 12 weeks of unpaid "family care and medical leave" per 12-month period.
  2. For most employees, a guarantee that when you return from leave, you will be placed in the same or a comparable position. (See below, "When Can a Key Employee Be Denied Reinstatement?")

What Is "Family Care and Medical Leave"?

Family Care and Medical Leave is leave taken in connection with one of the following:

  1. Your own "serious health condition"
  2. The birth of your child;
  3. Adoption of a child by you (or placement of a foster child with you);
  4. The "serious health condition" of your child;
  5. Caring for a parent or spouse who has a serious health condition;

Who Is Eligible To Take CFRA Leave?

In order to take leave under the CFRA, you must:

  1. Work for an employer who has 50 or more employees working within 75 miles of your worksite;
  2. Have worked for your employer for more than 12 months; and
  3. Have worked for your employer at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12-month period.

What Is A "Serious Health Condition?"

A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves either:

  1. Inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility, OR
  2. Continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider (see the FMLA).
  3. Your employer can require you to submit certification of your or your family member's serious health condition. This could be as simple as a letter from your or your family member's health care provider.

Can I Take Leave A Little At A Time?

You may take leave intermittently, a little at a time, or you may work on a reduced work schedule when "medically necessary." Your or your family member's health care provider will be the one to determine whether such leave is medically necessary.

What Notice Am I Required To Give to My Employer?

Generally, verbal notice to your employer is sufficient. You must state at least enough information to make your employer aware that your leave would fall under the CFRA (such as, telling your employer your spouse is seriously ill).

  • If your need for CFRA leave is foreseeable, your employer may require you to give 30 days advance notice of when your leave will begin. It is your employer's responsibility to let all employees know about such a requirement.
  • If it is not possible for you to give 30 days notice (for example, in a medical emergency), you must give notice as soon as practicable.

What If I Have Paid Vacation Or Sick Days Saved Up?

Since CFRA leave is unpaid, you may chose to use up your paid vacation days during your CFRA leave. Your employer may also require you to do so.

If you have sick days accrued, you may chose to use them (or your employer may require you to do so) during leave taken in connection with your own serious health condition (or for any other reason if you and your employer agree to it).

When Can A Key Employee Be Denied Reinstatement?

An employer is not required to reinstate you to the same or comparable position following CFRA leave IF:

  1. You are a salaried employee (that is, you have an annual salary and are not paid per hour); and
  2. You are among the highest paid 10% of employees your employer has within 75 miles of your worksite; and
  3. Reinstatement would cause "substantial and grievous" economic harm to your employer's business; and
  4. Your employer notified you that he or she did not intend to reinstate you once he or she realized it would cause economic harm.

What Happens to My Benefits While I'm On Leave?

If your employer provides any benefits under a "group health plan," he or she must continue providing you with such benefits during your CFRA leave.