The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) covers employers with at least 5 employees and includes many protections that don’t apply under federal law. As it relates to parental leave, the CFRA provides up to 12 weeks of job protection to new parents to bond with their new baby (through birth, adoption, or foster-care placement).

The CFRA also provides up to 12 weeks of job protected leave to employees who are unable to work due to their own serious health condition and/or to care for a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling with a serious medical condition. The CFRA also provides leave for "qualifying exigencies" relating to a family member's military service.

As of January 1, 2021, the CFRA covers employers with at least 5 employees. To be eligible for leave under the CFRA, an employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1250 hours within the prior 12 months.

Though CFRA can be taken for one’s own serious health condition, it excludes serious health conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions because these conditions are covered by California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL). This is good news for new moms because it allows eligible employees to take leave under the PDLL (up to four months) plus additional leave to bond with their baby under CFRA. This is a major difference from the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which runs at the same time as the PDLL.

When using CFRA to bond with a new baby, eligible moms and dads can take CFRA leave any time within the first year of a child’s birth, adoption, or foster-care placement.
An employer can require a medical certification when an employee takes CFRA leave for their own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a family member. However, unlike the FMLA, the CFRA does not require an employee to disclose the nature of their own or a family member’s health condition.
At the end of a CFRA leave, employers must return an employee to their same or to a comparable position. This means a position with the same or similar duties, pay, and location.
Though leave under the CFRA is unpaid, partial wage replacement is often possible. If CFRA is being used for an employee’s own serious health condition, partial wage replacement may be available through California’s State Disability Insurance (SDI) program. If CFRA leave is used for baby bonding or to care for a family member with a serious health condition, California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program may provide for partial wage replacement. Employees can apply for both SDI and PFL through California’s Employment Development Department (EDD).
While an employee is taking CFRA leave, employers need to maintain the employee’s health insurance at the same level they would maintain it if the employee did not take leave no matter the reason for the CFRA leave.

Employers cannot refuse to grant an eligible employee CFRA leave and cannot take any adverse action against an employee because the employee has taken parental leave or any other job-protected leave under the California Family Rights Act. Some examples of illegal, adverse actions include termination, demotion, or a transfer to a less desirable position or location.


Is the CFRA the same as the FMLA?
No, while the CFRA and the FMLA have many similarities, there are many differences and each law needs to be looked at separately.
Under most circumstances, the CFRA and the FMLA run at the same time and an employee can only receive a total of 12 weeks of leave under both laws. There are some notable exceptions. One exception is when an employee has a serious health condition due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. If an eligible employee uses leave under the FMLA while also taking leave under the PDLL, then that employee will still have 12 weeks of CFRA leave remaining when their leave under the PDLL ends regardless of the amount of FMLA used while the employee was taking pregnancy disability leave.
A serious health condition under the CFRA is one that requires inpatient care or continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider.


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