About the CFRA and Its Similarities, Differences with the FMLA


Employers always expect their employees to have good attendance at work. Apart from mostly being strictly enforced in the workplace, checking in to work on time and doing it on a daily basis shows how committed employees are with their duties and responsibilities. However, it is not all the time that employees can work for consecutive days. There are times wherein they have to skip a day, a week, or even a month or two from work because of certain circumstances that are either unforeseen or anticipated. For one, some employees need to take care of someone in their families who is experiencing a health condition. Female employees would also have to leave work for a certain period of time to take care of the newborn child.

As such, employees are allowed to take a leave of absence from work to deal with such circumstances. In the State of California, employees are protected by the California Family Rights Act or CFRA.

More on the CFRA

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is an employment law that was provides covered employees the right to take a leave or leaves of absence for the following situations:

  • Childbirth, including bonding with the newborn;
  • Adoption of a child or placing a child in foster care;
  • Taking care of a child, parent, or spouse with a serious health condition; and
  • Medication and/or hospitalization for the treatment of the employee’s serious health condition. 

California businesses that employ 50 or more part-time or full-time employees, as well as local, city, and state agencies, are subject to the provisions of the CFRA. Employees, on the other hand, are qualified for a CFRA leave if they meet the following criteria:

  • Must be either a part-time or full-time employee;
  • Must have worked for more than 12 months (52 weeks) for their current employers;
  • Must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period before the leave date approaches; and
  • Must be working at a location wherein the employer has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the employee’s work site. 

Similarities, differences with the FMLA

The CFRA is California’s version of the federal employment law on leaves, which is the Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA. The two laws are generally the same, especially with respect to the eligibility criteria (12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the same circumstances mentioned above, as well as employer and employee requirements.) However, one of the things that set the two laws apart is with regard to pregnancy being considered as a serious condition.

A woman who is pregnant and is expected to take a leave of absence from work in order to give birth is eligible for the FMLA leave but not the CFRA leave. This is because the state employment law does not consider pregnancy as a serious health condition. In other words, a California employee can only be eligible to take a leave of absence from work to bond with her newborn child after giving birth.

Despite this, female employees who may decide to skip work in order to give birth can still be eligible to use their leave either under the FMLA or the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provisions. The latter, which is the top employment law in the state that also protects covered employees from discrimination, also protects individuals who are disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical condition. Since almost all employers in California are covered by the FEHA, they must provide eligible pregnant employees up to four (4) months of protected and paid Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL).

Seeking legal assistance

Employers are compelled to comply with the provisions stipulated in the CFRA, as well as in the FMLA and the FEHA. However, not all of them are able to do so, with some not even reinstating those who are returning to work after lawfully using up their leaves. Some others even deny those who are eligible to use their leaves. If this ever happened to you as a worker in the State of California, you can always seek legal assistance with Los Angeles CFRA lawyers.


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