Changes to California’s Family Rights Act Effective January 1, 2021

On September 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law changes to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).  These changes will go into effect on January 1, 2021.

The CFRA is similar to the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that allows employees to use their leave for family medical problems.  Currently, however, the CFRA does not provide rights for pregnancy disabilities.

The changes to the CFRA will include whether an employer falls in the purview of the CFRA.  Currently, just like the FMLA, it is employers with a minimum of 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.  Also, the employees must have been employed for a minimum of one year, and worked at least 1250 hours within the last 12 months.  These employees would be entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave.

Also, besides the employee’s own condition requiring medical care, the current CFRA provides for leave for the birth, fostering, or adoption of a child, and/or the medical care of close family member.

The chart below shows the CFRA provisions with the new provisions effective January 1, 2021.




Employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius

Employers with 5 or more employees with the state of CA


12 weeks during a 12-month period or 26 weeks to care for an injured service member

No change


Birth and care of newborn child

Placement of foster or adopted child

Care of family member with serious medical conditions

Employee’s own serious medical condition excluding pregnancy

No change

No change

Care of family member with serious medical conditions and expands family member to include grand-parents, grandchildren, siblings and children of domestic partner

No change


Employed for at least one year with a minimum of 1250 hours worked in past 12 months

No change


Under the same condition of employee’s current leave benefits

No change


Employee restored to original or equivalent job and same pay upon return unless employee was a key employee whose position had to be refilled immediately

Removes the key employee exception


Employees can use their own sick leave or vacation days, and may be eligible for SDI or PFL

No change

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