California Bill Seeks to Expand CFRA Leave
There have been many changes to leave laws in recent years, both under the FMLA and under California’s CFRA. Proposed legislation recently has been introduced in California to further expand employees’ leave entitlements under CFRA. CFRA currently allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a year as needed for the birth or placement of a child, or to care for their own serious health condition or that of a child (up to 18 years of age or an adult dependent), parent (which includes a step parent and/or person who stands in loco parentis to the child), or spouse/domestic partner. AB 2039 seeks to expand CFRA leave to allow employees to take such leave to care for siblings, parents in law, grandparents, and adult children. If enacted, AB 2039 will obviously increase employee leaves, resulting in additional burden to California employers. This is particularly true because California employers covered by CFRA are typically also covered by FMLA, meaning they have to comply with both laws and their employees are entitled to leave under the terms of both laws. Because FMLA does not provide for leave to care for parents in law, siblings, and grandparents, an employee who uses leave for that purpose under CFRA will not have exhausted their FMLA leave because the CFRA leave could not be concurrently counted as FMLA leave. In other words, the employee could theoretically take 12 weeks of leave under CFRA for a parent-in-law, grandparent or sibling, and then still be entitled to an additional 12 weeks of leave under FMLA for a spouse or child. This very scenario already exists in California where leave is taken for disability caused by pregnancy or to care for a domestic partner. Differences between CFRA and FMLA on these two categories result in leave not running concurrently under these two laws in these situations. AB 2039 would add further differences between CFRA and FMLA, making leave tracking even more complicated for California employers.
The full text of AB 2039 is available here. We will keep you posted on the status of this and other pertinent employment-related legislation pending in California.