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California Leave Laws

California Family Rights Act (CFRA) -- Unpaid Leave

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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.

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