As an employee in the state of California, there may come a time when you need to learn more about paid family leave. Understanding the finer details of the law will help you determine if you qualify, how to take advantage, and any impact it will have on your employment and/or financial circumstances.
Paid Family Leave for California Employees
Paid family leave California is available to most employees, but that doesn’t mean that everyone qualifies. This article will discuss the ins and outs of paid family leave, giving you a clear overview of how it could affect you in the future.
What is Paid Family Leave?
Known to many as California FMLA, Paid Family Leave (PFL) provides benefit payments to people who need to take time off work to:
- Care for and bond with a new child (paternity leave California is available, too)
- Care for a sick family member
- Participate in a qualifying event resulting from a family member’s military deployment
Under the California Paid Family Leave (PFL) Act, you can receive payments for a maximum of eight weeks. Payments are between 60 and 70 percent of your weekly wages, calculated by the average earned 5 to 18 months before the start date of your claim.
Note: You can opt to receive payments via check or debit card. The California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program also provides short-term wage replacement benefits to eligible workers who cannot work due to a non-work-related injury, illness, or pregnancy. This CA disability program is different from PFL.
The Difference Between PFL and FMLA in California
There are many key differences between PFL and FMLA in California. Here are some of the most notable:
- FMLA is for companies with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.
- PFL is for companies with one or more employees who are subject to SDI.
- FMLA: Must have worked for an employer 12 months and 1,250 hours in the last 12-month period.
- PFL does not have a predetermined number of hours worked. The employee must contribute to SDI, and there is a seven-day waiting period during which no benefits are available.
- FMLA provides 12 weeks of time off throughout 12 months, unpaid.
- PFL provides six weeks of time off throughout 12 months, with pay.
- With FMLA, the employee must notify their employer within 30 days or reasonable time based on the circumstances. Also, the employer has the legal right to require medication certification, although it’s not always necessary.
- With PFL, the employee must file a claim with the Employment Development Department (EDD), which includes a letter of certification from a physician.
These are not the only differences between PFL and FMLA, but they are the most important to anyone considering them.
How Does Paid Family Leave Work in California?
There’s more than one way to answer this question, as no two people seeking benefits are in the same situation. For example, you may be interested in the paid family leave act California because you recently had a child. Another person may be seeking information because their spouse is ill and requires medical attention around the clock.
Paid family leave California provides up to eight weeks of partial pay, which amounts to no more than 70 percent of your salary. The reasons an employee can get family leave include caring for a sick family member, bonding with a new child, or participating in a qualifying event resulting from a family member’s military deployment.
After filing a claim with the EDD, you’ll wait to receive approval or denial. You can receive up to 70 percent of your wages if your claim gets approved. The percentage gets based on average pay over the past 5 to 18 months. You have the option to accept payments via check directly from the EDD or a Bank of America debit card.
A few other details to keep in mind include:
- You can receive benefits for up to eight weeks during any 12 months.
- You are not required to take all eight weeks consecutively. Rather, you can break it up based on what’s best for you.
- If you’re taking off work after having a child, you can only do so within the first year of their birth or adoption.
What You Can Get Paid Leave For:
As noted above, paid family leave California benefits are available to anyone who needs to:
- Care for or bond with a new child, either through birth or adoption.
- Care for a sick family member, including a child of any age, spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling.
- Participate in a qualifying event resulting from a family member’s military deployment.
How Much Does Family Leave Pay in California?
In general terms, your California paid family leave weekly benefit amount (WBA) is roughly 60 to 70 percent — based on income — of the wages earned 5 to 18 months before your start date. You can calculate your daily benefit amount by dividing your weekly benefit amount by seven. And your maximum benefit amount is calculated by multiplying your WBA by eight.
To calculate your WBA, here’s what you need to do:
- Confirm the start date for your benefits.
- Find your base period. This base period covers the past 12 months divided into four quarters. The base period includes any wages subject to SDI tax paid over the 5 to 18 months before your claim began.
Note: Starting on January 1, 2021, weekly paid family leave California benefits ranged from $50 to a maximum of $1,357. If you have any questions, you can call the paid family leave California phone number at 1-877-238-4373.
How Long Can You Get Paid Family Leave in California?
It doesn’t matter if you’re seeking paid maternity leave California or caring for a sick loved one. You can only receive up to eight weeks of paid family leave benefits. However, you are not required to take all eight weeks consecutively. You may find it advantageous to break up your time off into smaller chunks.
How to Maximize Your Paid Leave
While there are requirements for receiving paid leave and how long you’ll receive benefits, you can do other things during your time away from work. For example, you may want to look into virtual couples therapy if the stress of your new child is putting a strain on your relationship, take an anxiety disorder test to find out if you suffer from anxiety, or begin seeing a therapist to address trauma you may have experienced.
Other ways to maximize your paid leave include:
- Care for yourself, such as putting your children in a La Jolla daycare so you can maintain your mental health. Search “daycare near me” online, and you’ll find plenty of options to consider.
- Focus on the reason for your leave. Yes, you have a life outside of this, but you’re taking a leave for a reason. For example, if you took paid parental leave, spend the time bonding with your child.
- Keep an eye on your finances, as you won’t be earning as much during your leave as you do while you’re working.
Eligibility for Paid Family Leave
Do I qualify for paid family leave in California? There’s no simple answer to this question, as your situation is unique. You need to know the eligibility requirements to determine if you qualify. Consider the following:
- After your family leave begins, you must complete and submit your claim application before being out on family leave for 41 days.
- Qualify based on one of the three points detailed above: bonding with a child, caring for a sick family member, or a qualifying event resulting from a family member’s military deployment.
- Be employed or be actively seeking work when your leave begins.
- Earn a minimum of $300 from which SDI deductions got withheld during your base period.
- Provide a medical certificate if you’re caring for a sick loved one.
When you know what you’re up against, it is not difficult to understand paid family leave eligibility California.
How to Apply for Paid Family Leave
It is best to apply for paid family leave in California online. It’s easy, convenient, and fast. With that in mind, you’re less likely to make a mistake and more likely to complete the process quickly. While you can also call on the phone, it generally takes more work and time to reach the finish line. Here’s a rundown of your responsibilities and necessary documents:
- Provide basic information such as your name, Social Security number, California driver’s license number, and employer’s contact information.
- Visit Benefit Programs Online (BPO) to complete the registration process.
- Log in to file a claim.
- Attach any required documentation, such as the Statement of Care Recipient signed by the care recipient (such as your child or spouse).
You can then wait for the EDD to contact you regarding the status of your claim.
Unlike many states, California has its program in addition to FMLA. This option is in addition to California short term disability and other state benefits. With so many options available to you, it’s easier to stay on your feet when life throws you a curveball.
Hopefully, this article helps you understand the process of paid family leave works in California.
About the author: Chris Bibey is a professional writer who loves creating travel, finance, and entertainment-related content. Connect with him on LinkedIn.