You’re working hard, but life’s curveballs can still hit. Whether it’s a new baby, a sick family member, or your health crisis, California’s Family Rights Act has your back.
This guide helps you navigate the CFRA, ensuring you understand your rights to take unpaid, job-protected leave when you need it most.
Let’s dive in, unraveling the details of eligibility, job protection, compensation, and more.
California Family Rights Act (CFRA) Basics
As one of California’s most important labor laws, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) gives you specific rights and protections when you need to take time off work for certain family or medical reasons.
It applies to private employers with five or more employees and also covers the State of California and its political or civil subdivisions.
You’re guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year, provided you’ve worked for your employer for at least 12 months and clocked in at least 1,250 hours in the year before your leave.
You can use this leave for child bonding, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or your health condition.
Your job’s protected, and you’re entitled to the same or similar position upon return.
In this at-a-glance overview, you’ll find key points about the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) that you need to understand as an employee in California. The CFRA applies to employers with five or more employees and covers the State of California as well. To be eligible for CFRA leave, you must have at least a year’s tenure with your employer, having worked a minimum of 1,250 hours.
Employers with 5+ employees
Covered by CFRA
1 year of service
CFRA leave eligibility
1,250 hours worked
CFRA leave eligibility
CFRA: Does this apply to my employer?
If you’re wondering whether CFRA applies to your employer, it’s important to know that it covers private employers with five or more employees in California, along with the State of California and its political or civil subdivisions. This means that most of you working in California should be covered.
Also, you’re eligible if you’ve worked for your employer for at least 12 months and clocked in 1,250 hours in the past year.
CFRA leave can be taken for a variety of reasons, including care for a family member with a serious health condition, child bonding, or dealing with your serious health condition.
CFRA leave: Am I eligible?
You’re likely wondering about your eligibility for CFRA leave now, aren’t you? It’s a crucial question that deserves a clear answer.
To qualify for CFRA leave, you should meet the following criteria:
- You need to be employed by a company with at least five employees.
- You should have worked for your employer for a minimum of 12 months.
- You must have clocked in at least 1,250 hours in the year preceding your leave.
- The leave should be for a valid reason like child bonding, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or your serious health condition.
Is there protection for my position?
Often, you might be worried about the security of your job when taking a leave of absence, but under CFRA, your employment is indeed safeguarded. As long as you fall under the eligibility requirements, your position is preserved. In return, you’re entitled to the same or a similar job role.
However, exceptions do exist. If leave is fraudulently obtained or you would’ve been let go notwithstanding the leave, protection may not apply.
|Job Protection under CFRA
Position preserved during leave
Fraudulent obtaining of leave
Entitled to same/similar role on return
Termination unrelated to leave
Is CFRA leave paid, and can I continue my health insurance?
Despite being an unpaid leave, under CFRA, you’re still entitled to maintain your health insurance coverage during your time off work. However, this doesn’t mean you’re left without any options for income.
Some things to keep in mind:
- You can apply for state benefits like California’s State Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave which provide partial wage replacement.
- Some employers might voluntarily continue to pay your salary during your CFRA leave.
- You’re allowed to use any accrued vacation, personal, or sick leave during this period to receive pay.
- If you have disability insurance, you might receive benefits for the duration of your leave.
What is the process of requesting CFRA leave?
To request CFRA leave, start by checking your employer’s specific rules and procedures, usually outlined in the employee handbook or on the company’s website. Submit a written request to your HR department, specifying the dates you need off and the reason for your leave.
Here’s a simple guide to help you:
Review employer's CFRA policies
Write a clear, concise leave request
Submit a request to HR
Await HR's response
Is it permissible for my employer to penalize me for taking time off?
As an employee, you should know that it’s illegal for your employer to punish or retaliate against you for taking CFRA leave. This protection is in place to ensure you can take care of your family or personal health without fear.
- Wrongful Termination: Your employer can’t fire you for taking CFRA leave.
- No Promotion Denial: It’s illegal for your employer to deny you a deserved promotion because of your leave.
- Harassment-Free: You shouldn’t face any form of harassment due to your leave.
- No Discrimination: Discrimination, in any form, because of your CFRA leave is strictly prohibited.
If you experience any of these retaliations, you can file a lawsuit against your employer.
CFRA rights: What if my employer violates this?
If you’re facing a situation where your employer infringes on your CFRA rights, it’s crucial to know the steps you can take to protect yourself and your job. First, try resolving the issue internally through your Human Resources department. If that doesn’t work, consider contacting the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which enforces the CFRA.
Difference between CFRA with FMLA?
Navigating the differences between the CFRA and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can be daunting, but it’s essential for understanding your rights as an employee.
- Both CFRA and FMLA provide 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. However, the employers covered differ. CFRA applies to businesses with 5 or more employees, while FMLA covers those with 50 or more.
- CFRA recognizes registered domestic partners, whereas FMLA doesn’t.
- Unlike CFRA, FMLA considers pregnancy as a serious health condition.
- If you’re eligible for both, these leaves usually run concurrently, not separately.
In conclusion, understanding your CFRA rights is crucial as an employee in California. This law ensures you can take care of personal or family health matters without fearing job loss. Always remember to verify if your employer is covered, confirm your eligibility, and understand how to make a leave request.
Don’t tolerate any form of punishment for taking your rightful leave. If your rights are violated, take appropriate action. Remember, CFRA is there to support and protect you.