Employees 1, Employers 0

Governor Newsom signed SB1383 and dramatically changed protected time off as we know it. On January 1, 2021, companies of 5 or more employees will be subject to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The CA Chamber of Commerce had declared this a job killer bill and it definitely proves politicians don’t understand the challenges smaller employers face.

CFRA is very similar to FMLA (Federal Medical Leave Act) but includes a few more benefits for the employee than the Federal law. Starting 1/1/2021, the following differences will be in effect:

  • Affected companies:
    FMLA = companies with 50+ employees;
    CFRA = CA companies with 5+ employees.
  • Employee’s employment:
    Both = employed at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours during that period.
  • Location size:
    FMLA = 50+ employees within 75 miles;
    CFRA = 5+ total anywhere.
  • Amount of time off:
    Both = up to 12 weeks of unpaid, protected time off.
  • Reasons:
    Both = care for yourself or a family member with a serious health condition, pregnancy, new baby bonding (or foster or adoption), and various military reasons.
  • Family member:
    FMLA = child (minor or a dependent), spouse, and parent;
    CFRA = those listed under FMLA plus siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partners, adult children, and children of domestic partners.
  • Protection:
    Both = the employee must be guaranteed the same or similar job when the leave ends. No exceptions.

Small employers should remember that anyone actively working in the business, even if unpaid, is counted as an employee when calculating the 5+ number. Independent contractors and non-profit volunteers are not counted.

This will be a big learning curve for those of you with less than 50 employees. There is paperwork involved with each leave and timing is critical. Even for companies of 50+, this will bring changes due to the layering of CA and Federal leaves. We will be discussing this more but please reach out to us if you want to start preparing in advance of this law going into effect.

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