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  • Akiko Thayer

Big changes to CFRA!

Gov. Newsom recently signed into law SB 1383, which creates significant amendments to the California's Family Rights Act (CFRA) effective January 1, 2021. Most notably, SB 1383 expands CFRA coverage to any employer with just 5 or more employees! Currently, CFRA is only applicable to large employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the worksite.

According to the Legal Aid Society, nearly 4 million California employees are currently not eligible for job-protected baby bonding leave. Thanks to the passing of SB 1383, millions of remote workers and those who work at small companies can now safely take bonding leave without fear of losing their jobs.

In the context of maternity and parental leave, CFRA is the leave law that provides 12 workweeks of unpaid job-protected leave for baby bonding. For birth mothers, CFRA comes into play after their period of pregnancy and childbirth disability ends. And for non-birthing parents, CFRA can begin as early as the delivery date. (NOTE: There are other qualified reasons for leave under CFRA. This post will just focus on bonding).

SB 1383 brings other significant changes to CFRA as well:

  • Remote employee? No problem! Eliminates the requirement that employees work within 75 miles of the worksite. This means that remote employees will now be covered under CFRA! It's important to note, however, that the one-year employment and 1,250 hours of service requirements will still be intact.

  • No more sharing! Removes the existing provision that specifies that if both parents are employed by the same employer, that employer may limit CFRA bonding leave to a combined total of 12 workweeks between the two parents. So, come January 1, 2021, an employer would be required to provide 12 workweeks of bonding leave to both CFRA-eligible parents.

  • Good-bye to NPLA! Repeals California’s New Parent Leave Act (NPLA) effective Dec. 31, 2020, since NPLA will no longer be needed given the extensive new coverage under CFRA. ICYMI: California also has leave under NPLA, which also provides 12 workweeks of unpaid job-protected leave for baby bonding. NPLA provides virtually the same bonding rights as CFRA. The main difference is the employer-size threshold. NPLA applies to employers with 20-49 employees within a 75-mile radius of the worksite.

  • No more “key employee" exception! Deletes the ability for employers to refuse reinstatement to salaried employees who are among the highest 10% of the employees.

  • We are FAMILY! Not maternity or parental leave related but, SB 1383 expands the definition of "family member"for when an employee needs to take leave to care for a family member who has a serious health condition. Currently, CFRA defines "family member"to include a minor child, adult dependent child, parent, spouse, or registered domestic partner. Under SB 1383, employees may also take leave to care for a grandparent, grandchild, or sibling with a serious health condition.

As a reminder, CFRA is an unpaid job-protected leave of absence. It protects your job for up to 12 workweeks (cool, cool, cool) but there's no obligation for your employer to pay you during that time (oh, okay). However, if you've been paying into CA SDI taxes through payroll deductions (most W2 employees do), you'll be able to receive 8 weeks of partial wage replacement through Paid Family Leave.

So, what does this mean? If you can check off ALL of these requirements below....

  • Do you work for an employer with at least 5 employees?

  • Have you worked for your employer for at least one year?

  • Have you worked at least 1,250 hours of service within the past year prior to your leave?

Then, you're looking at a maternity leave scenario like this come January 1, 2021!

This is a timeline for a typical pregnancy with a vaginal birth with no post-birth complications. Effective January 1, 2021, at minimum, you'll be entitled to 22 weeks of unpaid job protected leave, starting at 4 weeks prior to your estimated due date.

It's important to note that SB 1383 was only recently passed. Next, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) will need to implement revisions to the existing CFRA regulations in accordance with the changes made by SB 1383. At which time, there may be amendments to some of these SB 1383 details. I'll keep a close eye on this and will provide updates as I see them! In the meantime, thanks again Gov. Newsom for looking out for us Californians!

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