Get to Know the New CFRA

The new year brought significant changes to California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA). Changes include expansion of who qualifies for protected leave as well as the reasons for taking leave.  This means that you may now be eligible for job protected CFRA leave, even if you weren’t eligible before.

At its most basic level, the CFRA provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected medical leave per 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • your own serious medical condition;
  • to care for a family member with a serious medical condition; or
  • to bond with a newborn, adopted child, or a child placed for foster care.

A serious medical condition that qualifies workers for leave is any illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that causes or requires:

  • Any period of incapacity or treatment in connection with, or after inpatient care;
  • Any period of incapacity requiring absence from work, school, or other regular daily activities, of more than 3 consecutive calendar days;
  • Ongoing treatment by or under the supervision of a health care provider for a chronic or long-term health condition that is incurable; or
  • Restorative dental or plastic surgery after an accident or injury.

As of January 1, 2021, a covered “family member” for which leave may be taken includes:

  • Spouse;
  • Minor and adult children;
  • Parents;
  • Siblings;
  • Domestic partners;
  • Adult children;
  • Grandchildren; and
  • Grandparents

Before 2021, the definition of “family member” was very limited and only included a minor child, parent, or spouse. This change will give more options for caretakers to remain employed while also fulfilling familial duties.

In order to qualify for CFRA leave, an employee must:

  • Work for a company that employs 5 or more workers; and
  • Have worked for the employer for both 12 months and 1,250 hours.

The previous version of this law only applied to employers with more than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius, leaving many employees without any coverage.

Another significant change to the CFRA allows new parents working for the same employer to separately take 12 weeks of leave, reversing the previous mandate which allowed an employer to cap the leave at 12 weeks total for both parents.

Finally, the new CFRA eliminates the exemption which previously allowed employers to deny paid leave to their top-earning 10% of workers. Under the new guidelines, any qualifying employee is eligible for family medical leave, regardless of pay scale.

If you feel that you’ve been denied medical leave you’re legally entitled to, contact the Law Office of Jeannette A. Vaccaro at (415) 444-5800 or online for a free consultation appointment.

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The Law Office of Jeannette A. Vaccaro

Jeannette A. Vaccaro is a zealous advocate, representing employees in all facets of employment law.

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