The New and (Drastically) Improved California Family Rights Act

By Corey Hanrahan

California has always been, shall I say, a little ahead of the curve on providing protections to employees. The amendment to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) that took effect on January 1, 2021 is no exception. Under the prior law, an employee was only entitled to CFRA protections if its employer had 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the employee’s workplace. So smaller employers were exempt from having to provide necessary, protected medical leave to its employees

“…the new and improved CFRA now covers employers with five or more employees. This sweeping change will provide significantly more California workers with the right to medical leave to care for a sick family member, or for the employee’s own illness

Effective January 1, 2021, the new and improved CFRA now covers employers with five or more employees. This sweeping change will provide significantly more California workers with the right to medical leave to care for a sick family member, or for the employee’s own illness. As with the previous version of the CFRA, the leave entitlement is up to 12 weeks of time off per year.

California law also prohibits retaliation or discrimination against employees who exercise the rights afforded by the CFRA. Employees need to be careful to understand their rights under the new and (drastically) improved CFRA. Employees must still be careful not to exceed the 12 weeks of leave, and should be sure to stay in touch with their employers, in writing, regarding anticipated return to work dates. This expansion to the CFRA is a huge step by California to provide more protection to its workers.