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California Paternity Leave Laws – All You Need To Know

Emanuel Shirazi

Understanding and navigating the intricacies of paternity leave can be overwhelming for new parents who are already juggling the responsibilities and adjustments that come with a new child. The state of California, recognizing the importance of supporting new families during this critical time, has established comprehensive paternity leave laws to alleviate some of the stress associated with balancing work and family life. These laws not only clarify the rights and obligations of employees taking paternity leave but also outline the responsibilities of employers in facilitating this process, ultimately fostering a more supportive environment for both parties involved.

California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is a cornerstone of paternity leave laws in the state. It provides job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks in 12 months for eligible employees who need to bond with a new child. This includes leave for fathers, mothers, and adoptive or foster parents.

To be eligible for CFRA leave, employees must meet the following requirements:

  • Have worked for the employer for a minimum of 12 months.
  • Have worked 1,250 hours within 12 months before the official start of leave.
  • Work somewhere with at least 5 employees.

It’s essential to note that the CFRA leave is unpaid, but employees can use accrued vacation, personal, or sick leave during this time.

California Paid Family Leave (PFL)

The California Paid Family Leave (PFL) program provides partial wage replacement to take necessary time off and bond with a new child. PFL provides up to eight weeks of these benefits within 12 months. The program is funded through employee payroll deductions and managed by the California Employment Development Department (EDD).

To qualify for PFL, employees must:

  • Be unable to work due to bonding with a new child (by birth, adoption, or foster care placement)
  • Have earned at least $300 in wages during the 12-month base period

PFL benefits are calculated based on an employee’s wages, with a maximum weekly benefit amount set by the state each year. In 2023, the maximum weekly benefit is $1,620. PFL can be used concurrently with CFRA leave, providing income during the unpaid CFRA leave period.

Integration With Federal Leave Laws

California’s paternity leave laws integrate with federal leave laws under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in 12 months for employees to care for a new child or a family member with a health condition or to recover from their own serious health condition.

FMLA eligibility requirements are:
  • Worked for the employer for at least 12 months
  • Have worked 1,250+ hours in the 12 months before the leave
  • Work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius

In most cases, CFRA and FMLA leave run concurrently, meaning employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave total, not 12 weeks under each law. However, California’s PFL benefits are in addition to federal leave benefits.

FAQs About California Paternity Leave Laws

Do Fathers Get Paid Paternity Leave in California?

Yes, fathers in California can receive paid paternity leave through the California Paid Family Leave (PFL) program. This program provides eligible employees with up to eight weeks of partial wage replacement while taking time off to bond with a new child. PFL benefits are funded through employee payroll deductions and are managed by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). PFL benefits can be used concurrently with unpaid leave under the CFRA.

Can I Take Intermittent Paternity Leave in California?

Yes, eligible employees in California can take intermittent paternity leave under the CFRA to bond with a new child. Intermittent leave allows employees to take leave in separate blocks of time rather than in one continuous period. However, the total leave taken should be, at most, the 12-week limit within 12 months. Communicate your plans for intermittent leave with your employer and gain their approval to ensure proper scheduling and coordination.

What Happens to My Job and Benefits While on Paternity Leave in California?

During your paternity leave under the CFRA, your job is protected, meaning your employer must reinstate you to the same or a comparable position upon your return. Further, while you are on leave, your employer must maintain your group health coverage under the same conditions as if you were actively working. However, you may still be responsible for paying your portion of the health insurance premiums during your leave.

How Do I Apply for Paternity Leave and California Paid Family Leave Benefits?

To apply for paternity leave under the CFRA, notify your employer of your need for leave as soon as possible. Provide them with the anticipated start and end dates and any relevant documentation, if requested. For California Paid Family Leave benefits, you must file a claim with the California Employment Development Department (EDD) after starting your leave. You can submit your claim online through the EDD’s website or by mail. Be prepared to provide information about your employment, wages, and the reason for your leave. It is important to file your claim within 49 days of the start of your leave to ensure your potential benefits are maintained.

Get in Touch With Us Today

If you have questions regarding paternity leave laws in California or would like assistance with filing your PFL claim, contact Shirazi Law Firm, PC today. Our experienced attorneys proudly support fathers, mothers, and families throughout California. Our reward is giving you adequate time to spend with your family and a secure financial future. Schedule a consultation today for personalized guidance and enjoy the time you have with your family.

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