Multiple Protected Leaves in California Impose Significant Cumulative Burden

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EmploymentLaw

California has numerous labor and employment regulations that far exceed those mandated at the federal level. A clear example of this is California’s multiple protected leaves of absence available to employees.

Although other states may have one or two similar leaves of absence, the California Chamber of Commerce is unaware of any other state that imposes the list of protected leaves of absence available in California.

Each leave independently may not seem to impose a significant burden on businesses; however, the cumulative impact of administering all the available protected leaves in California while still managing a productive and profitable business concerns employers.

The CalChamber understands that employees have personal needs that must be considered. Such needs, however, must be balanced with an employer’s ability to manage its workforce. Accordingly, any new proposed leave of absence for employees should be considered in light of the existing leaves of absence that employers already are required to provide in California.

The graphic illustrates the potential cumulative time impact of protected leaves with specified time frames.

California-Required/Protected Leaves of Absence for Employers of 50 or More

(Maximum Times Per Calendar Year)

ProtectedLeave

Family and Medical Leave Act

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires all employers of 50 or more to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of medical leave per calendar year.

FMLA also provides an employee up to 26 weeks of leave to care for an ill or injured military service member who is a spouse, son, daughter or next of kin.

California Family Rights Act

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) closely resembles FMLA and also requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide an employee up to 12 weeks of medical leave per calendar year.

Although CFRA and FMLA often overlap so that the two leaves run concurrently, there are significant differences where the two leaves do not run concurrently. Accordingly, a pregnant employee in California can take 12 weeks of leave under FMLA for pregnancy-related conditions, and then an additional 12 weeks of protected leave under CFRA after the baby is born for bonding.

Other Protected State Leaves

• Pregnancy Disability: Applies to employers with five or more employees and provides up to four months of protected leave, running concurrently with FMLA but not CFRA.

• Military Spouse Leave: Applies to employers with 25 or more employees and allows an employee to take up to 10 days to spend time with a military spouse who has been deployed in military conflict.

• Organ Donation Leave: Applies to employers with 15 or more employees and provides eligible employees with up to one month of paid protected leave in a year to donate an organ. This leave is explicitly excluded from running concurrently with FMLA or CFRA.

• Bone Marrow Leave: Applies to employers with 15 or more employees and provides eligible employees with up to one week of paid protected leave in a year to donate bone marrow. This leave is explicitly excluded from running concurrently with FMLA or CFRA.

• School and Child Care Leave: Applies to employers with 25 or more employees and provides eligible employees with up to 40 hours of leave per year to participate in certain school and child care-related issues, including enrollment, school activities and emergencies.

• Volunteer Firefighting, Reserve Peace Officer, and Emergency Rescue Personnel Leave: Applies to employers with 50 or more employees and requires the employer to provide an employee who is a volunteer firefighter, reserve peace officer, or emergency rescue person with up to 14 days of leave per year to engage in fire, law enforcement, or emergency rescue training.

• Civil Air Patrol: Any employer with 10 or more employees must provide no fewer than 10 days per calendar year of unpaid leave for an employee who is responding to an emergency mission of the California Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. If it is only a single emergency, only three days of leave is required.

• Paid Sick Leave: Applies to all employees who have worked in California for more than 30 days. If an employer does not have a policy that provides otherwise, an employee accrues one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. An employer can cap the employee’s accrual of paid sick leave to six days or 48 hours each year, and may limit the employee’s use of paid sick leave to three days or 24 hours each year.

Details

For more details on the protected leaves in this graphic, plus mandated protected leaves with more open-ended time frames, see the issue article on “California Protected Leaves of Absence” in the Managing Employees category at calchamber.com/businessissues.

Staff Contact: Jennifer Barrera

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Jennifer Barrera
About Jennifer Barrera
Jennifer Barrera, senior policy advocate, works with the executive vice president in developing policy strategy and represents the CalChamber on labor and employment, taxation and legal reform issues. Before joining the CalChamber in September 2010, she worked at a statewide law firm that specializes in labor/employment defense. She also advised small and large businesses on compliance issues, presented seminars on employment-related topics, and authored articles in human resources publications. Barrera earned a B.A. in English from California State University, Bakersfield, and a J.D. with high honors from California Western School of Law.