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New California Law Requires Employers with 5 or more Employees to Provide Family and Medical Leave

October 1, 2020

On September 17, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 1383, significantly expanding applicability of family and medical leave entitlements to employees under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Under this new law, California employers with five (5) or more employees must allow employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period to bond with a new child or to care for themselves or a family member due to a serious health condition. Previously, medical leave rights under CFRA applied to employers with 50 or more employees and baby bonding leave rights under New Parent Leave Act (NPLA) applied to employers with 20 or more employees.

SB 1383 also expands the definition of covered family members under CFRA; under the new law, employees will be allowed to take leave to care for a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner (previously the law only allowed for leave to care for a child, a parent, spouse, or domestic partner). Further, when both parents are employed by the same employer, each parent will be allowed to take up to 12 weeks of leave for baby bonding (previously the law provided both parents a combined total of 12 weeks of leave).

CFRA’s eligibility requirements remain the same for employees; they must be employed by their employer for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 month period. While the leave remains unpaid, employers must maintain and pay for the employees’ group health plan for the duration of the leave and at the same level as well as reinstate employees in the same or comparable job positions upon return from leave.

This law goes into effect on January 1, 2021. Small employers should immediately begin preparing policies, forms and procedures to ensure a timely roll-out. Larger employers that were already covered by CFRA need to update their polices to include the changes.

For questions and further assistance to prepare for compliance with these new requirements, Shivani Sutaria Law Offices is available to help.


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