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California Expands Family and Medical Leave Entitlements

Posted on May 31, 2021

On September 17, 2020, legislature signed a bill that significantly expanded the state’s existing Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitlements. It also expands the reasons for leave to include employees who need to take extended time off to care for family members.

What do you need to know about the changes to The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the newly expanded entitlements under SB 1383?

Under SB 1383, employees need to meet the same eligibility requirements as the pre-existing law. This includes needed to work at least 12 months for the employer in order to be entitled to medical leave and to qualify. This much as not changed. However, the previous version of this law stipulated that employers were not responsible for providing medical leave with fewer than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

The new law decreases the number of employees necessary to require eligibility for the FMLA leave. Now employers with five employees need to provide employees with up to 12 workweeks of protected leave if the reasons for the leave are covered. The employer also needs to maintain health coverage if the employee is under a group plan during their leave. The employee’s employment status is protected during this time and health insurance should be continuous throughout.

The new law also expanded employee rights with regard to leave for parental bonding and family member care. Under the previous law, leave to care for the family was only extended if the family member was the employee’s child, parent, or spouse. This law expanded to include a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or spouse.

These new provisions were added in September and will take effect on January 1, 2021.