Recent changes have been made to the California Family Rights Act regulations, which impact employee rights in the State of California. Since 1993, California has provided family leave employment rights under the California Family Rights Act. The recent amendments to the regulations that implement the CFRA went into effect on July 1, 2015.
The CFRA applies to California employees who work for covered employers, which includes those which have 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius. These employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period, provided they have worked at least 1,250 hours in the preceding year and worked for at least one year. To qualify for leave, the worker must have a serious health condition, must be taking care of a family member with a serious health condition, or must need the leave due to the birth or placement of a child.
The amendments to the regulations include several important provisions:
- the inclusion of same-sex partners and registered domestic partners as spouses;
- the expansion of the definition of a worksite, for the purpose of the 75-mile rule above, to include a group of “contiguous locations”;
- the use of leave to meet the one-year requirement for employee eligibility;
- the use of a weekly average of scheduled hours over the prior 12 months for employees whose work schedules vary;
- the restriction on employers that they may only contact a worker’s health care provider to authenticate a medical condition for a “good faith, objective reason”; and
- the requirement that an employer respond to an employee’s request for leave within five business days.
While many of the changes to the CFRA regulations were designed to bring them in line with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, some provide additional employee rights that are specific to the State of California. Workers should be attuned to the requirements of both federal and state law to ensure that their legal rights are not violated.
Sacramento, CA 95821