California Paid Family Leave
The California Paid Family Leave program offers up to 6 weeks of partially paid leave to employees within a year of a qualifying event. A qualifying event includes the birth of a child; the adoption of a child, or a foster child under 18 arriving in the family; or a serious illness of a domestic partner, spouse, child, or parent who needs care. The eligible employee is not required to take the entire leave all at once; instead, he or she can use it up in increments as short as a few hours or as long as a few weeks at a time.
PFL may be taken within a year of the qualifying event only after a 7-day non-payable waiting period has elapsed. This waiting period need be satisfied one time. For instance, if you go through the 7-day waiting period for a pregnancy disability leave, you don’t have to take it again for PFL. PFL runs concurrent to leave taken under the California Family Rights Act. See California Unpaid Family Leave If you take California Pregnancy Disability Leave, you may take an additional 6 weeks of PFL to bond with your baby. For more information about taking time off because you are pregnant or to spend time with your newborn, see California Pregnancy Disability Leave.
The PFL program is covered by payroll deductions from employee’s wages, and it applies to all California employers whatever the size of their company. In addition, any worker who pays into State Disability Insurance is eligible, whether they are a U.S. citizen or not. However, medical certification proving your own or a family member’s illness is required, as is supporting documentation that shows you have a newborn, newly adopted child, or newly placed foster child.
An employee’s earnings are the basis for benefit calculations, not the number of hours worked. Benefits are capped at a weekly maximum and usually constitute approximately 55 percent of a worker’s wages, although the benefit may be taxable and therefore the actual amount paid will be less than 55 percent. In 2008, the weekly maximum is $917; this number is slated to rise each year. The minimum weekly amount of PFL is $50. The amount of benefit you will receive depends on your salary in the highest quarter of the “base period,” which is calculated from wages paid during the 5-17 months period before the claim.
There are several limitations for PFL. For example, an employer does not have to hold your job or pay for health insurance or other benefits while you are away. In addition, your employer may require you to use up to 2 weeks of paid vacation time before allowing you to take paid leave, although a company cannot require you to use sick leave. You can use paid vacation time to satisfy the 7-day waiting period.
Workers who are receiving Workers’ Compensation, unemployment or disability insurance are not eligible for PFL. Nor are workers who are unemployed or looking for a job. In addition, if there is another family member available to provide care for a sick relative during the requested leave, then you are not eligible. Workers must take their PFL concurrently with California unpaid leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or federal family and medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). PFL was intended to partially replace wages for up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave taken under CFRA or FMLA.
In order to file a PFL claim, simply obtain a form from any California Employment Development Department (EDD) office or request a form by mail (call 1-877-238-4373; En Español 1-877-379-3819) or online at the Employment Development Department website. You must submit your claim no earlier than 9 days before the start of leave and no later than 49 days from the first day of leave.
The California Family Rights Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act stipulate your rights when it comes to returning to your job. Remember, unlike the federal law, California law does not require employers to hold jobs or benefits for workers who opt for PFL.
If you are denied PFL , get in touch with the California Employment Development Department immediately. A representative will explain why your application was denied. Denied workers may appeal the decision. Contact the EDD at 1-877-238-4373 (En Español: 1-877-379-3819) or visit the Employment Development Department website for more information.
You may also call a California employment law attorney to arrange for a consultation. Visit AttorneyPages.com.