The Blog

New Law 2014 – Reasons for “Paid Family Leave” Expanded (SB 770)

First, we must start with saying this law (and title of the law) is a misnomer (that’s why it’s in “quotes”). 

The law provides for “Family Temporary Disability Insurance” (FTDI) which is intended to provide temporary wage replacement similar to State Disability Insurance (SDI).  Rather than for the individual’s own disability (SDI), however, FTDI allows temporary wage replacement for reasons relating to the individual’s need to care for a seriously ill family member or for the birth or adoption of a child.  The maximum partial wage replacement is up to six weeks in any 12 month period.

The California legislature could have called it Family Temporary Disability Insurance and left it at that, but decided to call it “Paid Family Leave” instead.  There of course is a federal law called the Family Medical Leave Act (CFRA) and a California law called the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) both of which apply only to employers with 50 or more employees and both of which require those employers to provide up to 12 weeks off to eligible employees for their own or certain family members serious health condition or birth or adoption of a child.  And therein lies the confusion. 

California Paid Family Leave, in contrast to the FMLA and the CFRA, is not a leave entitlement law.  Whereas the FMLA and CFRA require covered employers to provide time off to eligible employees for qualified reasons and guaranty job reinstatement following the leave, Paid Family Leave does neither.  Yet, because of the title of the law, the EDD’s website, and other written disclosures by the EDD, employees commonly believe they have a right to 6 weeks off and job reinstatement under California’s Paid Family Leave law.  Wrong.

If an employer who employs under 50 employees grants time off, the employee can apply for Paid Family Leave (Family Temporary Disability Insurance) and if the employee can show the reason they are not working is a reason that makes them eligible for Paid Family Leave, then they receive temporary wage replacement insurance for up to 6 weeks.  But the under 50 employer need not authorize the time off nor is it obligated to hold the employee’s position if the employee decides to take unauthorized time off.

Now, with that background, to the amendments made by SB 770.  SB 770 expanded the qualifying reasons an employee can obtain temporary wage replacement under Paid Family Leave by adding grandparents, grandchild and siblings to list of seriously ill family members.  The complete list as of 2014 of qualifying reasons for Paid Family Leave: to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or domestic partner, or to bond with a minor child within one year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption.

Your handbook should be updated for this one – see more about updating handbooks for 2014 here.