Parental Leave Laws: A Review


You’ve probably seen that the subject of parental leave, in particular paternity leave, has been making headlines in the last few weeks. So we think it’s a great time to review the leave laws available to employees in California, including the topics that may soon be in the headlines.

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 what’s required of them. But for the purpose of this blog we’re breaking down four important leave laws in California: the FMLA, the PFL, the CFRA, and SDI.

The Leaves to know

Most of us are likely to be familiar with State Disability Insurance (SDI) as it is 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 and is distinct in that 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 vaginal birth and eight weeks following a cesarean).

Those two laws include wage-replacement, but Californians are also entitled to other securities that are unpaid yet offer job protection. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) authorizes employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave (the pay is at the discretion of the employer) with job protection and benefits. 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 significant change to the CFRA that occurred earlier this year is that 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.


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