The California Fair Employment and Housing Council has released new regulations concerning the California Family Rights Act. The new regulations are effective July 1, 2015.
Similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) generally applies to private employers with 50 or more employees and provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for family care and medical leave. An eligible employee is entitled to take family care and medical leave under CFRA for certain qualifying reasons.
Highlights of the new regulations include the following:
Definition of "Eligible Employee." Under the new regulations, an eligible employee means (among other things) a full- or part-time employee working in California who has been employed for a total of at least 12 months (a change from "more than" 12 months) with the employer at any time prior to the commencement of a CFRA leave.
Leave Included in Length of Service Calculation. If an employee is not eligible for CFRA leave at the start of leave because he or she has not met the 12-month length of service requirement, the employee may nonetheless meet this requirement while on leave, because leave to which he or she is otherwise entitled counts toward length of service (although not for the 1,250 hour requirement).
Maintenance of Health Plan Coverage. Group health plan coverage must be maintained for an employee on CFRA leave until:
The employee's CFRA leave entitlement is exhausted;
The employer can show that the employee would have been laid off and the employment relationship terminated for lawful reasons during the period of the CFRA leave; or
The employee provides unequivocal notice of intent not to return to work.
Interaction between CFRA and PDL. The right to take CFRA leave is separate and distinct from the right to take a disability leave under California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) and the state disability discrimination provisions. If an employee has a serious health condition that also constitutes a disability as defined under state law (§ 12926) and cannot return to work at the conclusion of her CFRA leave, the employer has an obligation to engage that employee in an interactive process to determine whether an extension of that leave would constitute a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
The regulations add and modify certain employer notice requirements, including the following:
Guarantee of Reinstatement. Upon granting CFRA leave, the employer must inform the employee of its guarantee to reinstate him or her to the same or a comparable position (subject to the employer's defenses (§ 11089(d)) permitted by the regulations).
Notice of Group Health Benefit Premiums. If employees are required to pay premiums for any part of their group health coverage, the employer must provide the employee with advance written notice of the terms and conditions under which premium payments must be made.
Notice of Termination of Health Benefits. Unless an employer policy provides a longer grace period, an employer’s obligation to maintain health benefits coverage ceases under CFRA if an employee's premium payment is more than 30 days late. In order to drop coverage, an employer must provide written notice at least 15 days before coverage is to cease, advising that coverage will be dropped on a specified date at least 15 days after the date of the written notice, unless payment has been received by that date.
Employers to Post Notice. The regulations add content and size requirements to the notice that every employer covered by the CFRA is required to post