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Key takeaways from California’s expanded employee leave laws

On Behalf of | May 23, 2023 | Employment Law |

Employers across California may be subject to numerous changes in employment law that went into effect in January 2023. Several key amendments to the California Family Rights Act grant employees expanded rights with regard to medical and bereavement leave.

Here are the key takeaways that covered employers – that is, those with at least five employees – should know.

Expanded medical leave to care for a designated person

Under prior law, eligible employees were entitled to up to 12 weeks of medical leave in a 12-month period to care for certain family members. The new law expands the definition of a family member to include any “designated person” with whom the employee has the equivalent of a family relationship. This means employees can take medical leave to care for relatives as well as close friends and other individuals who aren’t related to them, so long as they have a family-like relationship. Employees don’t have to designate that person prior to the leave request.

Importantly, employers aren’t required to accommodate leave requests for more than one designated person per 12-month period.

Expanded bereavement leave

Under the previous version of the California Family Rights Act and associated regulations, employees were entitled to three days of bereavement leave for the death of a family member. They could request two additional days if the death was out-of-state.

As amended, the new law provides that:

  • Employees are now entitled to five days of leave for the death of a qualifying family member, provided they have worked at least 30 days. They can take the leave intermittently, but they must take it within three months of the death.
  • It’s not mandatory for the leave to be paid, unless the employer already offers paid bereavement, in which case at least the first three days must be paid.

Employers are allowed to request documentation to verify the death.

These are just a few of many new employment law provisions that went into effect in 2023.