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Understanding FMLA and CFRA leave

by | Feb 12, 2021 | Uncategorized

Regardless of our current health status, eventually, everyone will get sick, be injured or have some kind of family emergency. Luckily, at both the federal level, with the Family and Medical Leave Act, and state level, with the state of California passed the California Family Rights Act, employers are mandated to give workers, at least, unpaid time off. This is why it is important to know one’s rights under each.

CFRA versus FMLA

Employment law can be confusion, especially when it comes to the FMLA and the CFRA. However, in sum, they both allow for 12 weeks of unpaid leave (or paid, paid leave is provided by the employer) within a given year. This can be used to adopt a child, for the birth of a child, for one’s own serious medical condition or even to care for a family member with a serious medical condition.

Covered employers

A key difference between the two applies to small businesses. FMLA only applies to businesses with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, but CFRA applies to businesses with five or more without a location requirement.

Covered people

FMLA covers family members, which include the employee’s spouse (including same-sex marriages), children (including dependent adult children) and parents. CFRA covers these same individuals, but it also covers registered domestic partners, child of any age (regardless of dependency), children of a domestic partner, siblings, grandparents and even grandchildren.

Medical information

FMLA allows employers to get a diagnosis of the serious health condition. CFRA does not allow employers to ask for such a diagnosis. This is why employers in California, the FMLA medical certification should not be used. Instead, the California Certification of Health Care Provider form should be used.

One or the other, or both

In most circumstances, for up to 12 weeks, both FMLA and CFRA leave will run concurrently. Meaning that employees are only entitled to that 12 weeks off in a given year. However, it is possible to get two 12-week entitlements. For example, since FMLA does not recognize a domestic partner or grandparent, one could take 12 weeks of CFRA leave to care for either of these family members. Then, the employee could take another 12 weeks of FMLA leave to care for a parent, spouse or child, totaling 24 weeks of FMLA and CFRA leave. Of course, these issues can get complicated, so contact an Elk Grove, California, attorney with specific questions.