Major Changes To California’s Family Leave Policy

In 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed several changes to the California Family Rights Act into law. The California Family Rights Act authorizes employees to take up to twelve weeks off of work every year to deal with medical and family leave. It ensures that all employees covered by the Act can take the leave they need while knowing that their job is protected. Here are the reasons for medical leave that are currently covered:

  • To bond with a new child in your immediate family (regardless of being born, adopted, or fostered);
  • To take care of a family member who is seriously ill;
  • To recover from a serious illness; or
  • To deal with issues resulting from a loved one’s deployment.

It is important to note that the California Family Rights Act does not cover pregnancy. Pregnancy is addressed by other bills, including the federal Family Medical Leave Act. The California Family Rights Act also does not dictate whether the leave will be paid or unpaid, which is up to the employer.

Here are some significant changes to the California Family Rights Act that went into effect in January of 2022:

Eligible Employees

All California companies with five or more employees must now recognize the California Family Rights Act. This number is significantly lower than the fifty employees that the bill had as a minimum before. There is also no physical distance requirement for the employee number.

Eligible Family Members

The California Family Rights Act only allows medical leave for the employee themselves or for them to care for certain family members. Here are the family members currently eligible to be taken care of under the act:

  • Children, no matter the age
  • Parents
  • Parent-in-laws
  • Spouses or partners
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren

The new addition of “parent-in-law” is a major one. This means that if a parent-in-law is sick with a serious illness, eligible employees can take leave to care for them while knowing that their job is protected. On the flip side, it also means that parent-in-laws can take the leave to care for their children. This is a significant change from the prior version of the act, where parent-in-laws were not covered for the same options.
The law is constantly in motion and it is important to keep current with your rights as an employer or employee. For reliable help, contact Integrated General Counsel today! We can help you find your legal “piece” of mind.