The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (the “FMLA”) provides job-protected leave to employees who must take time off from work: (a) because of their own serious health condition; (b) to care for a child, spouse, or parent who has a serious health condition; (c) for the birth of a child, to care for a newborn, or due to the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care; (d) for a “qualifying exigency” due to the fact that the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is on active duty in the Armed Forces; or (e) to care for an injured or ill servicemember or veteran during rehabilitation.
In turn, under the FMLA, “serious health condition” is defined as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves (a) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or (b) continuing treatment by a health care provider.
The California Family Rights Act (the “CFRA”) – which is essentially the California counterpart to the FMLA – is a job-protected leave provision that is similar in several respects to the FMLA.
Below are some things that you should know about the FMLA and the CFRA:
- Eligible employees are entitled to 12 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period.
- FMLA/CFRA leave is unpaid unless during this leave period: (a) an employee takes paid time off and/or (b) disability or other income replacement benefits (such as workers’ compensation payments or California State Disability Insurance) are available to the employee.
- During an employee’s FMLA/CFRA leave, the employer must maintain the same health plan benefits that it offered to the employee when the employee was actively working.
The CFRA is similar to the FMLA in many respects, but notably, the CFRA provides California employees broader protections in a number of ways. For instance:
- Private employers with five or more employees are covered by the CFRA. In contrast, private employers are covered by the FMLA only if they have employed 50 or more employees for each working day during each of the 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.
- The CFRA covers more family members than the FMLA. For example, eligible employees may take CFRA leave to care for a spouse, child, parent, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling with a serious health condition. In contrast, eligible employees may take FMLA leave to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
- CFRA prohibits second and third medical opinions to verify the health condition of a family member, while FMLA permits them.