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Understanding the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is a piece of legislation similar to the federal laws established in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Essentially, the CFRA permits qualifying workers employed by covers employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and health reasons. Under the CFRA, employees are eligible to take up to 12 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period. During this time, they will have the right to keep healthcare coverage and other relevant benefits. Qualifying reasons under this California state law include:

  • Birth of a child for purposes of bonding within one year of birth
  • Placement of a child for adoption or foster care
  • Serious health conditions of an employee's spouse, child, or parent
  • An employee's serious health condition

Serious health conditions include any type of illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that necessitates either in-patient care – including overnight stays in a hospital, hospice stays, or in-patient care at a residential healthcare facility – or continuing treatment or supervision by a healthcare provider.

In addition to these qualifying reasons, employees may also be eligible to take unpaid, job-protected leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which also include military leave. An Orange County employment lawyer can assist you with any clarification you may need about your employment rights and eligibility to unpaid, job-protected leave.

Requirements, Notifications & Employee Rights

The CFRA also specifies responsibilities of employees and employers. For example, employers may provide eligible workers with job-protected leave for a qualifying reason for a maximum of 12 work weeks in any 12-month period. Under the CFRA, 12-month periods may be calculated in one of four ways:

  • A 12-month calendar year
  • Any "fixed" 12-month year, including a fiscal year or an employee's start date
  • A 12-month period that begins on the date of an employee's first CFRA leave
  • A rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any leave

Regardless of the specific term used, employers must consistently apply the method equally to all employees. Additionally, employees must give advance notice when they intend to take leave, although some exceptions can apply for unforeseen emergencies and circumstances. Upon reinstatement, eligible employees have the right to be reinstated in the same or comparable position and to pay, benefits, working conditions, and status "virtually identical" to the position they held before leave.

If you or someone you know has recently faced negative employment repercussions after taking CFRA leave for a qualifying reason – including denials of reinstatement or benefits – or if you have questions about the California Family Rights Act and your employment rights, please do not hesitate to contact an Orange County employment attorney from Diefer Law Group, PC. Call (949) 260-9131 or request a free, no obligation case evaluation today.