While the Family and Medical Leave Act and myriad state laws determine how
employers nationwide must respond to employee leaves of absence, firms operating
in California can face more requirements and confusion than most, a management
attorney in San Francisco said Nov. 28 during a Bloomberg BNA webinar.
Allen Kato of Fenwick & West said that the “FMLA is a very technical
law.” In addition, he said, “Various California leave laws pose additional and
sometimes conflicting requirements to add to employer confusion.”
Understanding how the FMLA and California leave laws intersect is crucial, he
One difference between the CFRA and FMLA, Kato said, is that the FMLA does
not cover domestic partners, while the California law does.
“The most important advice I can give you is don't assume that the employee
has FMLA rights, and don't necessarily communicate to the employee that [he or
she] has FMLA rights if that is not true,” Kato said.
Kato also noted some other leave law issues unique to employers in
what laws address pregnancy-related leave, Kato advised. For example, pregnancy
disability leave (PDL) in California applies to employers that have five or more
employees. Eligible employees can take four months of PDL. “Unlike FMLA, there
is no eligibility criteria or waiting period,” for PDL leave, Kato said.
in California who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault in part are
entitled to unpaid time off to obtain judicial relief.
in California must be allowed to take time off to appear in a school proceeding
related to a child's suspension from school. California employers with 25 or
more employees must allow workers with school-age children (K-12 or in a
licensed child day care facility) to take up to 40 hours a year, but not more
than eight hours a month, for school activities.
employers with 15 or more employees must allow workers up to 30 business days in
a year to donate an organ, or five business days in a year to donate bone
in California must be allowed time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer
firefighter, a reserve peace officer, or as emergency rescue/civil air patrol
By Rhonda Smith
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