New Parent Leave Act Applies to Employees Not Subject to FMLA/CFRA

How does the New Parent Leave Act interact with the federal Family Medical Leave Act/California Family Rights Act?

Beginning January 1, 2018, California’s New Parent Leave Act (Parental Leave) requires employers with 20 or more employees to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a newborn, or a child placed with the employee for adoption or foster care.

Previously, only employers with 50 or more employees had to provide eligible employees with baby-bonding leave. That’s because those employers were covered by the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)—laws that give employees the right to take protected time off for certain qualifying reasons, one of which is bonding with a new child.

Interactions with FMLA, CFRA

A common question about Parental Leave is how it interacts with FMLA and CFRA leave. To be eligible for Parental Leave, an employee must have worked for you for at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months, and work at a worksite with at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius.

The New Parent Leave Act says that Parental Leave is available only to employees who are not subject to both FMLA and CFRA. That means if an employee is eligible for baby-bonding leave under FMLA/CFRA, that employee is not eligible for leave under the New Parent Leave Act. Employees can be eligible for either Parental Leave or FMLA/CFRA leave—not both.

Overlap May Occur

That does not mean, however, that employers covered by FMLA/CFRA shouldn’t be concerned with the New Parent Leave Act. Even if you are a covered employer under FMLA/CFRA, there may be times when you have an employee who is not eligible for FMLA/CFRA, but is eligible for Parental Leave.

For instance, an employee may meet the first two eligibility requirements under FMLA/CFRA (worked for you for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours), but not be eligible for FMLA/CFRA because the employee works at a worksite where you have fewer than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. The employee, however, will be eligible for Parental Leave if the employee works at a worksite with at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at

Staff Contact: Erika Pickles