On March 5, 2015, the California Fair Employment and Housing Council amended the California Family Rights Act, which is the state’s version of FMLA.
Existing California law is already similar to FMLA in that it provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave for employees who have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 month period. Under both laws, the employee must have a qualifying reason for leave. Qualifying reasons include birth, adoption, foster care or serious health condition of an employee or family member.
The amendments more closely align the state’s regulations with FMLA. The amended provisions include:
An employer may deny reinstatement to a key employee if certain requirements are met.A covered employer includes a successor employer.Joint employers may share responsibility for an eligible employee. A joint employment relationship occurs when two or more businesses control the work conditions of the employee (such as a PEO or staffing agency and recipient organization).When determining whether the employee has met the 12-month service requirement, the employer must include employment records for the last seven years.When determining whether the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius, employees with no fixed worksite (for example, working from home) would be included in the count for the worksite from which they receive assignments or to which they report.The term 'serious health condition' includes inpatient care or continuing treatment, which may include substance abuse.The employee has the right be reinstated to the same or comparable position. Comparable is clarified to mean that the position is equivalent in terms of pay, benefits, shift, schedule, geographic location, working conditions, privileges, perquisites, status, duties, responsibilities, skill, effort and authority.The employer must respond to a request for leave within five business days. (The deadline under CFRA was previously 10 calendar days.)If the employee’s leave is unpaid, the employee may agree to prepayment of any required premiums or the employer may require payment during the leave.
The regulations include a revised certification form. There is a new posting requirement; however, the revised poster is not yet available. The amendments are effective July 1, 2015.