California Family and Medical Leave Act 2024 – All You Need to Know

California Family and Medical

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one of the most integral pieces of legislation for workers. The federal government enacted this law to ensure that people will not lose their jobs or healthcare when circumstances beyond their control force them to take unpaid medical leave. The California Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was created to help employees balance their work and personal health while maintaining economic security during difficult times.

Additionally, the state operates under a second piece of legislation known as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). This tweaks the Family and Medical Leave Act slightly to better fit the circumstances and needs of state residents. Together, these two acts ensure the protections awarded to employees working in California and support them in times when health and family must be prioritized over work.

Defining the Family and Medical Leave Act in California

Across the country as a whole, the FMLA operates to protect employee rights and provide the flexibility necessary when certain circumstances arise. Enacted in 1993, the FMLA gives eligible employees the right to up to three months (12 weeks) of unpaid leave every year if their employer employs at least 50 workers. The FMLA also ensures that during this time period, an employer cannot fire or replace the individual on leave.

Circumstances that allow for this type of leave include:

  • Bonding with a newborn baby, an adopted child, or a foster child.
  • Being a caregiver for a parent, spouse, or child suffering from a difficult health condition.
  • Having to address or recover from a severe health condition yourself.
  • Spending time with an active-duty family member on short-term leave.

In addition to the FMLA, the CFRA expands these circumstances. An employer need only employ five workers for the following situations to apply:

  • Caring for a spouse, domestic partner, children, parents, in-laws, siblings, grandparents, or grandchildren with a severe health condition.
  • Tending to your own diagnosis and the recovery from a serious medical issue, including pregnancy.
  • Bonding with a newborn, foster, or adopted child.
  • Having time with an active-duty family member who is home on short-term military leave.

Understanding Provisions of the FMLA

It is crucial that employees and employers alike know and understand the provisions of the FMLA and who qualifies for them under state and federal law.

  • Duration of employment. One of the top requirements when determining eligibility for the FMLA is how long an individual has worked at their place of employment. To qualify, someone must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months. However, these 12 months don’t have to be consecutive.
  • Number of hours worked. Furthermore, to qualify, an employee must have worked at least a total of 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately before the beginning of their FMLA leave. Both part-time and full-time employees are eligible as long as this requirement is met.
  • Size and location of the workplace. Under the FMLA (not the CFRA, as the following requirements do not apply), your employer must employ at least 50 workers who all work within a 75-mile radius of the work site.

At the end of the day, for residents of California, the CFRA, which was expanded in 2021, only affects the size and location requirement, making it so the employer needs only employ five workers who commute from anywhere in the state.

Provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act

The mission of both the FMLA and the CFRA is to ensure the essential rights of qualifying employees. It is important to understand the benefits available to you and the provisions awarded under the FMLA and the CFRA:

  • Leave duration. Qualifying employees are allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a period of 12 months. The time is given so that the individual has enough time to address their own medical issues, those of a family member who requires care, bond with a newborn, foster, or adopted child, or deal with any emergencies regarding the military service of a family member.
  • Entitlement for special leave for military families. Under the FMLA, eligible workers are allowed up to 26 weeks of leave annually to tend to a covered member of the military who is suffering from a serious injury or illness. This leave is extended as the challenges and sacrifices faced by military families can often be strenuous and should be provided with extra support.
  • Protection of employment. Both the FMLA and the CFRA offer job security. During the requested leave, an individual’s employment is protected, meaning they must be reinstated to their original position or one of equal standing upon their return to work. This allows workers to not be forced to choose between their health or that of their loved ones and their employment.

As a result of all these benefits, residents of the state do not have to worry about choosing between their livelihood and the health and wellness of themselves or those they love.


Q: What Are the Rules for FMLA?

A: In California, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, an employee must have worked for a covered employer for at least 1,250 hours for a non-consecutive period of at least 12 months before the start of their unpaid leave. They must also be employed at a location that employs at least 50 workers who live within a 75-mile radius of that location.

Q: What is the Difference Between FMLA and CFRA?

There are several differences between the FMLA and the CFRA. The FMLA is a federal program, whereas the CFRA applies only to residents inside California. The CFRA also expands certain requirements so that more people are protected. Employees can take unpaid leave under the CFRA to care for people like domestic partners, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings, in addition to those who fall under the FMLA.

Q: What Is California Paid Family Leave?

A: Paid Family Leave provides benefit payments to workers who need time off to bond with a new child, care for a family member, or have an event arise due to a family member’s military deployment. You can receive these payments for up to eight weeks. However, it is important to remember that only the FMLA or the CFRA can provide job protection.

Q: What Qualifies as a Serious Medical Condition Under the FMLA?

A: According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, a severe health condition that requires one to request unpaid leave is any kind of illness, injury, impairment, or mental or physical condition that necessitates overnight hospitalization or continuing treatment like chemotherapy, pregnancy or kidney dialysis or anything that keeps someone from being able to perform daily tasks like walking, eating, or getting dressed.

Contact an Experienced Employment Lawyer Today

The details and nuances of both the FMLA and the CFRA can be incredibly confusing. If you find yourself in need of the protection of either, you thankfully don’t have to go through it alone. The team at the Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez is here to help. Contact us today and see how we can support you through whatever kind of situation you are facing.

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