Revisions to the California Family Rights Act Regulations
Revisions to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) regulations have been approved and are set to take effect on July 1, 2015. The new CFRA regulations are largely focused on synchronizing employer obligations under CFRA and FMLA, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Several of the primary updates to align the CFRA and the FMLA include:
- The definition of “eligible employee” clarifies the 12 month length of service requirement and explains how to determine whether there are 50 employees within a 75 mile radius for an employee who has no fixed “worksite”. The regulations clarify that if a person works from home, the worksite to which they are assigned as their home base, from which their work is assigned or to which they report is their worksite, not their home office.
- If an employee does not have the twelve month length of service to qualify for CFRA leave at the start of a leave, but reaches the 12 month service requirement during the leave, the employer must provide CFRA leave when the employee qualifies.
- The definition of “covered employer” adds guidance for joint employers. When two or more businesses exercise control over the employee's work or working conditions then both may be considered joint employers under the CFRA.
While new regulations attempt to align the two Employment Acts, there remain a number of key differences between FMLA and CFRA entitlements. Some of the notable differences that remain include:
- Pregnancy defined as a “Serious Health Condition” – Pregnancy is covered as a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with no change with new regulations. However, Pregnancy is not covered under CFRA. Instead, in CA, a pregnant employee is entitled to pregnancy disability leave (PDL) of up to 4 months. Employer need have only 5 or more employees & no eligibility period for employee. Eligible CFRA employee can then take a 12 week CFRA baby bonding leave. First 12 weeks of PDL can run concurrently with FMLA for eligible employees, and for that period, employer needs to maintain health benefits.
- Registered Domestic Partners Equal Spouses – Registered Domestic Partners are currently not covered under FMLA with no change with new regulations. Registered Domestic Partners are covered under CFRA, just like spouses. (Fam. Code §297.5.) Note that this may give a domestic partner more family leave, as the domestic partner will not have exhausted his/her FMLA leave taking CFRA leave to care for a domestic partner.
- Medical Authentication – The CFRA only permits an employer to contact an employee's medical provider to authenticate a medical certification. Under the new CFRA regulations, the employer is not permitted to seek “clarification” of the medical certification. This contrasts with the FMLA which permits the employer to contact the medical provider for authentication and clarification.
- Paid Sick Leave – The CFRA provides slightly less discretion than the FMLA for the employer to substitute the employee's paid sick leave for unpaid CFRA leave. For an employee's own serious health condition, the employer may require the employee to use paid sick leave. For CFRA leave for any other reason, the employer cannot force the employee to use paid sick leave. An employer may require an employee to use accrued vacation or PTO for any unpaid CFRA leave.
Employers and employees alike should be made aware of new CFRA regulations as they go into effect on July 1, 2015. To further discuss the new regulations, or a potential claim on your behalf, feel free to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.