New California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) regulations become effective on July 1, 2015. The regulations provide needed clarification and bring the CFRA more closely in line with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The changes include:

  • The length of service requirement for eligible employees will be changed from employed for “more than” twelve months to “at least” twelve months.
  • The worksite for employees with no fixed worksite – often remote workers who work from home – is the site that they are assigned to as their home base, from which their work is assigned, or to which they report. For jointly employed employees, the worksite is the primary employer’s office from which the employee is assigned or reports, unless the employee has physically worked at least one year at the facility of a second employer, in which case the employee’s worksite is that of the secondary employer. The location of the employee’s worksite is important in determining whether he/she is eligible for FMLA or CFRA leave, since he/she must be employed at a worksite with 50 or more employees or within 75 miles of a worksite with at least 50 employees.
  • If an employee is not eligible for CFRA at the beginning of leave because he/she has not been employed for at least twelve months, the employee may meet this requirement on leave because leave to which he/she is otherwise entitled counts towards length of service.
  • “Key employee,” for purposes of assessing which employees may be denied reinstatement upon return from leave, is clearly defined and there is more detail around reinstatement of such key and non-key employees.
  • “Serious health condition” is expanded to cover treatment for substance abuse. Importantly, this is contrasted from someone who is abusing, which is not protected.
  • “Spouse” is expanded to cover registered domestic partners and employees in same-sex marriages.
  • Employers are prohibited from contacting health care providers except to authenticate medical certifications.
  • Employers have five business days to respond to CFRA leave requests.
  • Provides for electronic posting of CFRA notices.
  • Provision of a new medical certification form.

Employers should celebrate the detail and clarification provided for in the regulations, which should help simplify the leave process and harmonize the CFRA and FMLA, although differences between the statutes still exist.