California Family Rights Act – CFRA/FMLA and Parental Leave


The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) authorizes eligible employees to take up a total of 12 weeks of paid or unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period. While on leave, employees keep the same employer-paid health benefits they had while working. With the onset of 2021, California’s family and medical leave law, under the California Family Right Act (CFRA) went on to cover smaller employers. With the Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA) restricting its coverage to 50 or more employees, CFRA amendments opened doors to covering 5 or more employees. Under CFRA, employees are permitted to take total paid leave or unpaid job-protected leave of 12 weeks in a span of 12 months. Both men and women are eligible for this leave.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) requires employers of 50 or more employees to provide job-protected leave for the birth of a child, for placement of a child in the employee’s family for adoption or foster care, for the serious health condition of the employee’s child, parent, or spouse, and for the employee’s own serious health condition.


What are the Major Differences Between FMLA CFRA?

There are 4 major differences between the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA):

What are the Major Differences Between FMLA CFRA


Pregnancy as a “Serious Health Condition” (SHC):

FMLA: Covered as a serious health condition under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). CFRA: Pregnancy itself is not covered as a SHC.

Registered Domestic Partners Equal to Spouses

FMLA: Not covered.

CFRA: Covered under CFRA, registered domestic partners are covered just like spouses.

Qualifying Exigency” because of employee’s or family member’s active military duty

FMLA: Eligible FMLA employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks (4 months) of leave for any qualifying exigency.

CFRA: Not covered under CFRA.

Care for Ill or Injured Service Member

FMLA: Covered. An employee who is the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member may take a total of 26 weeks (6.5 months) of leave.

CFRA: Covered under CFRA if a family member is a spouse, child, or parent.

Who Is Protected?

California law protects individuals from illegal discrimination by employers based on the following:

What are the Salary And Benefits During CFRA Leave?

Employers are not required to pay employees during a CFRA leave. An employer may require an employee to use accrued vacation time or other accumulated paid leave other than sick time. If the CFRA leave is for the employee’s own serious health condition, the use of sick time can be required.

What are the Eligibility Criteria for FMLA/CFRA Leave?

There are specific criteria for an employee to be eligible for CFRA and/or FMLA. An employee must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months and must have worked for 1,250 hours in the 12 months before the start of the leave. The employee must also work at a work site where 50 or more employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles of that work site.

FMLA and CFRA Leaves

The FMLA and CFRA both require covered employers to provide time off for personal illness, to attend to the illness of a family member and in connection with the birth or adoption of a child. Though this sounds simple, FMLA and CFRA issues are among the most litigated of all employment law cases and can result in large liabilities. Federal and California family and medical leave laws provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of time off per year for:

  • Bonding with a newborn, adopted child, or child placed for foster care
  • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
  • The employee’s own serious health condition
  • A qualifying exigency relating to a close family member’s military service (FMLA only)

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act also allows eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks per 12-month period to care for an ill or injured service member.

The preliminary premise of this law offers leave to care for one’s own serious health problem or that of a family member. This leave also covers parental leave that is required to bond with a newly born.  

Major differences between CFRA and FMLA:

  • CFRA allows leave to bond with the child of a domestic partner, which was excluded in the case of FMLA.
  • While FMLA covers pregnancy leave, CFRA does not consider an employee’s disability due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions as a serious health condition.
  • In case of FMLA, eligible spouses, who work for the same employer, were permitted to combine 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for following reasons, which is not permitted in the case of CFRA.
  • Birth of a child or for bonding with the new born
  • For placement of child for adoption or foster care/ Bonding with the newly placed child
  • Caring for a parent with serious health condition


Does CFRA cover paternity leave? As per the California Family Right Act (CFRA), all new dads, who have worked with their employers for a period of 1 year or put in 1,250 hours of work are entitled for paternity leave.

Tenure: Covers 12 weeks of paternity leave The purpose of this leave is to help their partner to recover from childbirth or to bond with the newborn. Parental leave can undoubtedly be defined as a family right. Experts suggest that the ideal time to start this leave is right around the baby’s due date. The idea is to spend maximum time with the baby, when he or she has arrived in this world.

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California Family Rights Act - CFRA/FMLA and Parental Leave
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California Family Rights Act - CFRA/FMLA and Parental Leave
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The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) authorizes eligible employees to take up a total of 12 weeks of paid or unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period. While on leave, employees keep the same employer-paid health benefits they had while working.
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