Am I Eligible for Paid Family Leave in California?

The biggest changes in life require our deepest focus and attention in order to nurture ourselves and our loved ones through to the next chapter. While some businesses will explicitly provide these protections within their benefits packages, it can sometimes be unclear as to whether you as a worker will receive paid family leave or unpaid leave in California.

If you are an employee who requires leave of absence because of a serious health condition, a family member’s health condition, or birth, adoption, or pregnancy, there are several important laws that can protect your right to receive leave time from your employer.

What is Protected Leave in California?

Under the state of California, workers are protected by the following laws:

  • Federal Family and Medical Leave ACT (FMLA)
  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
  • California Pregnancy Disability Leave Act (PDL)

Both the FMLA and CFRA provide up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid family leave for certain qualifying employees under specific conditions. Several differences in the two laws include who they cover and how they apply. While the FMLA covers private companies engaged in interstate commerce with at least 50 workers, the CFRA covers private employers with at least 50 workers in a 75 mile radius. The CFRA covers all public employees regardless of how many staff are on the payroll.

Do I Qualify for FMLA?

To be eligible for unpaid time off, employees must meet the following requirements:

  • Work for a covered employer.
  • Have been employed by them for at least 12 non consecutive months.
  • Have been employed by them at least 1,250 actual hours worked.
  • Work at a site where the employer employs at least 50 workers within a 75 mile radius.

While employees of private businesses, nonprofits, and state or local public agencies within the state of California are governed and protected by California law, federal employees are only protected by federal laws like FMLA.

How Do I Receive Paid Family Leave?

While the above-mentioned laws allow for employees to now receive up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave time followed by the certainty of employment upon return, receiving Paid Family Leave (PFL) does not promise job protection. In the State of California, eligible employees can receive benefits for up to 8 weeks to the amount of 60-70% of their wages earned 5 to 18 months before filing the claim.

In order to qualify for PFL, you must meet one the following criteria:

  • Be unable to perform regular work.
  • Have lost significant wages due to the need to provide for your seriously ill family member.
  • Require time to bond with a newly born or adopted child.
  • Participate in a qualifying event related to a family member’s military deployment.
  • Be employed or actively looking for work when your leave begins.
  • Have earned $300 from State Disability Insurance during your base period.
  • Complete and submit your claim form no earlier than the day your family leave begins and no later than 41 days after it begins
  • If caretaking, provide a certificate on your care claim for the seriously ill family member.

Amendments in Paid Family Leave Protections

During the pandemic, certain legislation was amended to bring more accessibility to California’s paid family leave law. SB 83 was signed into law to help provide better paid leave to California workers by extending the timeframe of benefits from 6 to 8 weeks. Birth mothers can also take an additional 6 to 8 weeks to recover from childbirth under California’s Disability Insurance Program.

How Long Can You Take a Leave of Absence at Work in California?

A qualified employee can take a leave of absence for up to 12 weeks for serious health conditions, to bond with a child, or to care for a parent, child, or other family member with a serious health condition.

How Can I Cover My Pregnancy Leave in California?

As a pregnant mother in California, you can receive up to four weeks of Disability Insurance (DI) benefits for a normal pregnancy before your expected due date. You can also receive up to six weeks of benefits (for normal delivery) and up to 8 weeks of benefits (for C-section) to recover from childbirth. New mothers who are receiving DI will automatically receive a form to apply for Paid Family Leave upon transition to bonding time with the baby.

To determine if you are eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have welcomed a new child into the family in the past 12 months either through birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
  • Have paid into State Disability Insurance in the past 5 to 18 months.
  • Not have taken the maximum 8 weeks of PFL in the past 12 months.

Citizen and immigration status do not affect eligibility. If you think you’re eligible for Paid Family Leave (PFL) as a new mother, the next step is to file a claim. To do so, follow these 5 steps via the State of California’s Employment Development Department to apply.

Not only can you qualify for PFL as a new mother, but new fathers may also qualify for Paid Family Leave. Qualifications for new fathers receiving PFL benefits in the State of California are equivalent to the requirements above. Claims can be filed online or by mail.

Can You Be Fired While on Medical Leave in California?

Under the laws mentioned above, an employee can not be fired from their job simply for being on medical leave.

Know Your Rights | Hire Family Leave Lawyer Kyle Todd, P.C.

If you feel like you have experienced wrongful termination while on paid or unpaid family leave, contact Kyle Todd, P.C. today to receive the compensation you deserve. Our associates will fight to defend your rights as an employee within the state of California. If you’re in need of a consultation to determine whether you qualify for paid or unpaid family leave, we can help. Contact Kyle Todd, P.C. to recoup your financial or emotional losses.