Recently, the Biden administration announced plans for a federal paid family leave program – something that has been available to California employees for over a decade.

California’s Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) program, which is administered by the California Employment Development Department (“EDD”), provides eligible employees with up to 8 weeks of wage replacement benefits when an employee is off work for certain qualifying reasons.

PFL Benefits

The PFL program provides wage replacement benefits to eligible workers who take time off work to:

  • Care for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner.
  • Bond with a new child entering the family by birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
  • Participate in a qualifying event related to a family member’s (spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, or child) military deployment to a foreign country.

The PFL program was expanded this year to allow employees to collect benefits when off work due to a “qualifying exigency” related to a family member’s military service.

The PFL program is funded by deductions from workers’ paychecks and benefits are paid by the State, not by employers. Despite its name, PFL is not a leave law and does not grant employees the right to take leave or offer job protection; it only provides benefits when employees are off work for qualifying reasons.

Employer Requirements

Even though it is a state-administered program, California employers still have obligations to assist with the program.

Employers are required to inform employees of the PFL program by posting in the workplace the Notice to Employees: Unemployment Insurance/Disability/Paid Family Leave (DE 1857A). Employers must also provide the Paid Family Leave Benefits (DE2511) brochure to new hires and to employees who advise the employer they need time off to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a child.

Employers must also make payroll withholdings and send contributions to the EDD; employers can find withholding schedules and additional information on the EDD’s website.

To receive PFL benefits, employees must make a claim with the EDD. When an employee files a claim for PFL, employers will receive a Notice of Paid Family Leave Claim Filed (DE2503F) from the EDD. Employers must complete and return the form to the EDD within two working days to verify the information the employee provided on their claim.

Employers with employees working in San Francisco may be required to supplement the wages of employees who are receiving PFL benefits when off work to bond with a child.