CALIFORNIA SIGNS BILL SIGNIFICANTLY EXPANDING THE REACH OF THE CALIFORNIA FAMILY RIGHTS ACT

10/14/2020 (Updated 1/12/2021)

By Benjamin Croft

On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed SB 1383 which significantly expands the right of employees to take up to 12 weeks of protected leave.   Effective January 1, 2021, the new California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) will apply to any employer with 5 or more employees, and will cover more kinds of leave than the existing version of the law.

Expands Coverage to Small Employers

Originally, CFRA applied only to employers with 50 or more employees. The new CFRA will apply to any employer with 5 or more employees. Employees are eligible for CFRA leave once an employee has more than 12 months of service with a covered employer, and has worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the previous 12-month period.

SB 1383 also repeals the New Parent Leave Act, which provided bonding leave rights to employers with 20 to 49 employees.

Expands Permitted Reasons for Use of Leave

Currently, employees may take CFRA leave for three reasons:

  • Because of the birth of a child or placement of a child in connection with adoption or foster care by the employee;
  • To care for a parent, child or spouse who has a serious health condition; or
  • Because of the employee’s own serious health condition.

The new law expands family leave to care for grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, registered domestic partners, and adult children with a serious health condition.

It also adds protection for leaves due to a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty, or call to covered active duty, of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States. 

Significant Eliminations

SB 1383 eliminates two significant provisions from the current version of CFRA. First, it eliminates the existing provision that allows an employer who employs both parents of a child to limit the total amount of bonding leave provided to 12 weeks combined. Under the revised CFRA, each parent is now entitled to up to 12 weeks of bonding leave under CFRA.  Secondly, SB 1383 eliminates the provision that permits an employer to deny reinstatement to certain specified “key employees.”

New Documents (Updated 1/12/2021)

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing has published an updated CFRA certification form which can be found here as well as an updated poster which can be found here.

Next Steps

Prior to January 1, 2021, employers should review their policies, procedures, forms and notices to ensure compliance with the revised law.

Please note that this summary is not intended to constitute legal advice. If you have questions regarding compliance with these new California laws or other employment laws, please feel free to contact Benjamin Croft, Kristin Pedersen, Maki Daijogo or Julie Martel at Daijogo & Pedersen by emailing us at [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected], or by calling us at 415.924.9400.