Leave of Absence |
May 04, 2021

Understanding Changes to the California Family Rights Act

California has recently expanded the family and medical leave rights available to families in the state. Now, more employees can have the time that they need for more reasons than were available to them in the past. This law even now applies to nearly all small businesses.

The first major change in the law enacted by SB 1383 is that it now applies to companies with as few as five employees. The federal FMLA law applies to companies with a minimum of 50 employees, as did the previous California law. This means that almost all California employees can qualify for leave, and a San Francisco employment lawyer can help protect your rights. 

There Are More Covered Categories Now

The change in the law also expands the categories of people that employees can take leave to care for during an illness. Now, employees can use leave to care for grandparents, grandchildren, or siblings.  In addition, parents can now also take leave to care for an adult child over the age of 18.  Further, employees may also take time off to care for the child of a domestic partner. Previously, employees could use accrued sick leave to care for these categories of relatives. This makes the California law broader than the FMLA. 

Another area where the law changed is in a situation when both parents worked for one employer. Previously, the law only required one 12-week leave period for both parents. Now, the employer must give each parent the ability to take up to 12 weeks to care for the child. 

Key Employees Are Now Protected

The change in the law also takes away a key exemption that employers had. Previously, an employer could refuse to reinstate an employee who was in the highest 10% of salaried employees. This was a significant deterrent that kept these people classified as “key employees” from taking family leave. Now, all employees can take the leave that they need without having to worry about reinstatement.

SB 1383 expands the California law broader than the FMLA. It is possible for an employee to have 12 weeks of leave for an event covered only by California law, as well as another 12 weeks for FMLA coverage. This makes California law even more employee-friendly. 

A Broader Law May Require Legal Help

Since protections are now extended to employees of small businesses, there is a chance that these companies may not understand the law. They could still refuse to honor an employee’s legitimate and legally protected request for time away from work. When that happens, the worker will need an attorney. The hope is that an attorney could resolve the problem informally, but litigation is an option. Employees have the right to sue if they face any type of retaliation for violations of the California Family Rights Act. 

Contact a San Francisco Labor Law Attorney

We expect there to be more legal issues surrounding family leave as the law now applies to many more businesses. Contact the attorneys at Minnis & Smallets with any issues surrounding the CFRA or the FMLA. Workers whose rights are being violated by an employer breaking the law can fight back.