Part I: California Continues Reign as Leave Law Leader

October 20, 2015


iStock_000033499790_Full_mod2Mention that you have employees in California, and every HR professional and employment lawyer in the room will feel your pain.  With over a dozen laws that provide employees with leaves of absence and 4 laws that provide pay benefits during time off, California leads the country in its number of leave-related laws.

Not wanting to allow employers to get comfortable, California has recently amended 3 of its leave and benefits laws:  the Family-School Partnership Act, Kin Care, and state disability insurance.  Here’s what you need to know about each.

Family-School Partnership ActThe FSPA allows an employee who has custody over a child in grades K-12 or in child care to take up to 40 hours per year off to attend certain school-related functions.  The law applies to employers with 25 or more workers at the employee’s location.  An October 11 amendment, effective January 1, 2016, expands the covered parental relationships and the applicable leave reasons under the law.

ProvisionCurrentAddition Effective 1-1-2016Comments
Covered relationshipsParent, guardian, or a grandparent with custodyStepparent, foster parent, grandparent, or a person who stands in loco parentis to the child
Leave reasonsTo participate in activities of the school or licensed child day care facility– To find, enroll, or reenroll the child in school or a licensed child care provider– To address a child care provider or school emergencyExamples of covered activities include volunteering in the classroom; parent–teacher conferences, Back-to-School Night, field trips, and extracurricular sporting events
Schools covered“Licensed child day care facility”“Licensed child care provider”

Note that the FSPA has additional provisions relating to employee notice, documentation, use of PTO, and other details.  See  Cal.Lab.Code § 230.8(a) and the FSPA brochure at

Kin CareCalifornia’s Kin Care law does not create a right to time off but applies if an employer provides paid sick leave.  In that case the employer must allow an employee to use one-half of the employee’s annual sick leave accrual for certain purposes other than the employee’s own illness.

ProvisionCurrentAdditionEffective 1-1-2016Comments
Covered relationshipsChild, parent, spouse, or domestic partner of the employeeGrandparent, grandchild, and sibling“Child” and “parent” include those with a biological, adoptive, foster, step, guardian/ward, or in loco parentis relationship with the employee
Leave reasons – use of sick leave“To attend to an illness” of a covered family member– Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing illness, or preventive care– Victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalkingActivities related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking may include court appearances, medical treatment, counseling, safety measures, and obtaining victim services

State Disability InsuranceCalifornia’s state disability insurance program provides employees with a non-work-related injury or illness with up to 52 weeks of pay benefits at approximately 55% or the employee’s pay in the defined “base period.”  Employers can elect to provide a Voluntary Disability Insurance plan, but the plan must provide benefits equal to, and greater in at least one aspect, compared to the state insurance plan.  Those employers will need to consider these amendments to determine whether their plans need to be updated.

ProvisionCurrentChangeEffective  7-1-2016Comments
“Disability benefit period”Periods of disability for same/related condition separated by not more than 14 daysPeriods of disability for same/related condition separated by not more than 60 daysWill result in combining more related periods of absence into one “disability  benefit period”
Waiting PeriodInitial 7 days of disability period with no benefits paid7-day waiting period does not apply for subsequent related periods of disability separated by 60 days  or fewer

Whew! More CFRA Amendments VetoedAs you may recall, California employers were kept busy updating their policies, practices, and documentation due to extensive changes to the California Family Rights Act regulations effective July 1, 2015.  The California legislature attempted to keep up the pace by passing amendments to the CFRA law itself.  The proposed amendments would have:

  • Expanded the family relationships for which employees could take CFRA leave (adding  grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, sibling, and  child of domestic partner)
  • Removed the age and dependency requirements for a “child”, thus making employees able to take CFRA leave to care for adult children
  • Removed the requirement for parents employed by the same employer to share the 12 weeks of CFRA leave to bond with a child

Governor Brown vetoed the amendments to CFRA, citing concern about the possibility that with the amendments some employers would have to provide up to 24 weeks per year of CFRA leave.  He left open the possibility of expansions of CFRA’s coverage if this effect can be eliminated or mitigated.

Tomorrow, just for fun, we’ll take a quick look at the myriad leave-related laws California has on the books.  See if you know of any more!


If you need assistance in keeping up with these leave law changes we hope you’ll sign up for this blog!  And Matrix Absence Management can help with your multi-state leave management headaches.  To talk with a Matrix representative, please call (800) 866-2301.