As mental and physical health concerns have grown increasingly relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative employers understand their rights and obligations under the California Family Rights Act (the “CFRA”). The CFRA provides certain employees in California with the right to take up to twelve (12) weeks of job-protected leave for child bonding, serious health conditions, or other qualifying circumstances. To be considered eligible for CFRA leave, an employee must have both 1) maintained employment for twelve (12) months with their employer prior to commencing CFRA leave; and 2) worked for their employer for a minimum of 1,250 hours during the twelve (12) month period prior to CFRA leave. Throughout CFRA leave, employees may be entitled to employer-contributions towards the continuation of certain benefits such as medical, dental, and vision insurance. When returning from CFRA leave, employees are entitled to their same or a comparable position, among other job protections. While these provisions may appear familiar, many employers are unaware that as of January 1, 2021, California Senate Bill 1383 (“SB 1383”) dramatically expanded the application of the CFRA.
Prior to SB 1383, the CFRA applied only to private employers with fifty (50) or more employees residing within a seventy-five (75) mile radius of an employer’s worksite. On January 1, 2021, the CFRA was expanded to include private employers with five (5) or more employees and also eliminated the worksite mileage requirement. Additionally, SB 1383 broadened the scope of qualifying circumstances covered under CFRA leave; prior to January 1, 2021, employees were entitled to CFRA leave to care for a spouse, domestic partner, parent, minor child, or dependent adult child suffering from a serious health condition. Currently, employees may be entitled to CFRA leave to care for all previously covered individuals and additional family members, including: an adult child, a child of a domestic partner, a grandparent, a grandchild, or a sibling suffering from a serious health condition. While these items are considered the predominant changes implemented by SB 1383, this list is not exhaustive by any means. SB 1383 also impacted prior limitations applicable to parents working for the same employer, active-duty military leave, CFRA dispute resolution and mediation, and prior exceptions to the applicability of the CFRA.
While SB 1383 took effect nearly two years ago, understanding its intricacies has recently become crucial given the increase of requests from employees to work from home and/or take job-protected medical leave. Navigating whether employers are required to fulfil such requests, how pay and medical benefits will be processed, how vacation time is calculated, and how the CFRA interacts with other relevant laws can be overwhelming. If you have any questions concerning changes to CFRA and how such changes affect your business, or would benefit from ensuring that your operations are in legal compliance, please contact John Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org) or any member of the FELLP Law team at (858) 746-6480 to schedule a consultation.