California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

The California Family Rights Act allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for themselves or family members.

When an employee needs to take time off work to care for a loved one they may not be eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, California Family Rights Act (CFRA) may provide additional coverage for some employees. CFRA also provides some additional benefits that FMLA does not require.
Like FMLA, CFRA provides certain employees with medical leave to take care of themselves or immediate family. However, CFRA has some notable differences.

Eligibility Under CFRA

First, CFRA shares many of the basic qualification requirements as FMLA. An employee is only eligible if his or her employer has 50 or more employees and works at a location in a 75 mile radius of 50 employees. An employee must also have worked 1250 hours within the 12 months preceding a leave request.
CFRA allows eligible employees to take unpaid time off to care for the serious health condition of:

  • The employee
  • The employee’s spouse, child, or parent
  • Care for domestic partners and the children of domestic partners qualifies under CFRA, unlike with FMLA

Employee Benefits Under CFRA

Employees under CFRA are entitled to:

  • Up to 12 weeks of leave per year
  • All benefits that the employee would normally have. This is stronger that FMLA, which only requires the employer to provide health benefits
  • Reinstatement of job or equivalent position when returning to work


Pregnancy qualifies as a serious health condition under FMLA but it is a special circumstance under CFRA. The Fair Employment and Housing Act has an Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)provision that enables women to take up to 4 months of time PDL regardless of how long the employee has been with the employer. Under CFRA women are also entitled to a 12 week baby bonding period on top of any eligible pregnancy disability leave.

Other Provisions

Generally, CFRA leave will run concurrently with FMLA, meaning that an employee usually will not be able to use 12 weeks of CFRA leave then start using FMLA leave. An exception to this is in cases of pregnancy related disability (PDL) prior to childbirth.
California leave law is also stronger than FMLA in other ways. For example an employer may not request a second opinion from a doctor for the illness of a family member under CFRA.
Additionally some employers may owes duties to employees above and beyond those that are required by FMLA. If the employer fails these duties an employee may be entitled to damages including:

  • Lost wages, benefits, and other compensation
  • Interest on salary, wages lost, or other compensation
  • Attorney fees and costs of conducting the lawsuit
  • Equitable relief such as reinstatement to the former position

Enforce Your Rights

If your employer has unlawfully retaliated against you or has failed to provide you with the rights you are entitled to contact the experienced California employment law attorneys of Cunningham Law, APC. Call (858) 367-7390  to schedule a free consultation.