California Parental Leave Laws: What Employers Should Know


Parental leave has been a popular topic in recent years, and for good reason. Employees are not only entitled to legal rights regarding parental leave, they’re also looking for employers who offer more than the requirements. We’ll discuss the additional benefits that many employers have begun to offer in the weeks to come. In this week’s blog, we’re breaking down four important leave laws in California: the FMLA, the PFL, the CFRA, and SDI.



Most of us are likely to be familiar with State Disability Insurance (SDI) as it’s the main source of wage-replacement security the state offers. As pregnancy and birth recovery are categorized as a disability, employees can utilize this protection. SDI is often paired consecutively with Paid Family Leave (PFL).

PFL is another wage-replacement and job-protection option. It can also be used for child-bonding within the first twelve months of birth or adoption, while SDI is available solely for up to four weeks during the pregnancy and for six-to-eight weeks following birth (six weeks following a normal birth and eight weeks after a cesarean).



While SDI and PFL include wage-replacement, but Californians are also entitled to other securities that are unpaid, yet offer job and benefits protection. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) authorizes employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave. This is distinctive from the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal unpaid leave law with job and benefit protections, in that the CFRA can only be used after the birth of the child, while FMLA can take place prior to birth if a medical condition related to pregnancy requires a leave from work.

One recent and significant change to the CFRA is that, effective January 1, 2021, employers of 5 or more employees must comply with the law (previously it was 50 employees) and the definition of care has expanded to include more family members, such as caring for grandparents with serious medical conditions. Another big change is that if the parents are both employees of the same employer, each will be entitled to 12 weeks of leave.


We know that the laws regarding parental leave can be confusing, especially considering that there are both several federal and state laws that require compliance. We’re here to help clarify these protections so that you can be assured your business remains in compliance.  Eos HR is a team of professionals helping small businesses navigate complicated employment laws. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.