The Updated Provisions to the California Family Rights Act

The prior California Family Rights Ac Law

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1383 into law on September 17, 2020. The law is an update to the prior California Family Rights Act (more formerly known as the Moore-Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act). The prior law made it an illegal employment practice for:

  • A government employer or an employer with 50 or more employees
  • To refuse an employee request – if the employee worked at least 1,250 hours during the prior year
  • To take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period
  • To bond with a child, parent, or spouse.

The prior law provided that an employer could refuse the employee’s request if the company had less than 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite. The employer could also refuse the request if the employee is a salaried employee (as compared to a worker paid by the hour or short terms) if the employee’s pay is in the top 10% of worker salaries. The prior California Family Rights Act (CFRA) also gave the employer permission to “only grant both employees a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during the 12-month period.”

Prior CFRA law did prohibit employers from refusing to “allow a female employee disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition to take a leave for a reasonable time of up to 4 months before returning to work.” Prior CFRA law also prohibited an employer from refusing to provide (maintain and pay for) health coverage for any employee who takes authorized leave.

Another law, the New Parent Leave Act, makes it illegal for an employer to refuse an employee’s request for leave to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period to bond with a new child. This law covers employees who have at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, and who works at a worksite in which the employer employs at least 20 employees within 75 miles. This law applies to just bonding with a child compared to the CFRA law which covers bonding with a child – and also – a parent or spouse. This law also applies to employers with 20 or more employees compared to the prior CFRA which applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

In addition to the new California Family Rights Act, employees may benefit from the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

What does the new California Family Rights Act do?

The new California Family Rights Act makes a number of changes to the prior laws including the following:

  • With some exceptions, employers cannot refuse a request for up to 12 weeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period for BOTH family care and medical care – if the employee has at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period or who meets the requirements of subdivision u (which relates to air carriers). The employer is required, upon the granting of the leave request – to a “guarantee of employment in the same or a comparable position upon the termination of the leave.” In other words, you shouldn’t lose your job when you finish the terms of your leave. What factors will be considered a reasonable request for leave will be defined by the Fair Employment and Housing Council.


  • Family care and medical care are defined as:

(A) Leave for reasons of the birth of a child of the employee, the placement of a child with an employee in connection with the adoption or foster care of the child by the employee, or the serious health condition of a child of the employee.

(B) Leave to care for a parent or a spouse who has a serious health condition.

(C) Leave because of an employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of that employee, except for leave taken for disability on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

These definitions are a broad expansion of the prior CFRA.

A child includes a “biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis who is either under 18 or who is an adult-dependent child.”

A parent includes “a biological, foster, or adoptive parent, a stepparent, a legal guardian, or other person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a child.”

A “serious health condition” is defined as “an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility – or continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider.

According to the California Globe, the new CFRA does not require that an employer pay an employee while the employee is on leave.

The new CFRA gives employees the right to use any of the employee’s accrued leave or other accrued time off instead of this leave – and be paid for the time off. Employees cannot use sick leave for certain family issues (such as the birth of a child or caring for other family members with serous health conditions) unless both the employer and employee agree. Generally, employees can use sick leave to attend to their own ill health.

The new CFRA keeps the requirement that the employer must maintain and pay for group health insurance coverage for the employee – up to  12 workweeks. The coverage should be the same the employee would have had – had he/she continued to work. The employee can also participate in other plans such as employee benefit plans, life insurance, and disability – during the leave period.

The new CFRA includes many other provisions our seasoned California employment lawyers can explain such as:

  • The employee shouldn’t lose seniority or longevity due to the leave.
  • An employer can ask for certification of the need for leave from a health care provider.
  • Employers cannot adversely affect the employee’s employment status due to the employee’s exercise of the leave.
  • Many other provisions.

To discuss your right to ask for a medical or family leave for you or for others, call the Miracle Mile Law Group now. You can call us at (888) 244-0706 or contact us for a FREE consultation.