family leave

family leave

family leave, social policy permitting workers to take a specified amount of time off from the job to attend to pressing family needs. The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (1993) attempts to balance family and work obligations. This law, which covers companies with 50 or more workers and employees with at least a year of service, mandates up to 12 weeks of leave per year for various family medical emergencies and for the birth or adoption of a child. It also stipulates that the employers must continue to provide health care benefits and that returning workers must be given their old job or an equivalent position. Many states also have family leave laws, and in many European countries and Japan, longer periods of paid leave are common.
California's Paid Family Leave (PFL) insurance program, which is also known as the Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI) program, is a law enacted in 2002 that extends unemployment disability compensation to cover individuals who take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new minor child. Benefits equal approximately 55% of earnings and have a maximum per week.

The Paid Family Leave program is administered by the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program of the Employment Development Department. Benefits commenced on July 1, 2004.

The statute states that PFL must be taken concurrently with leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), both of which provide for twelve weeks of unpaid leave in a twelve-month period.

The PFL insurance program is fully funded by employees' contributions, similar to the SDI program.


In 2002, California was the first state to pass a law requiring the Paid Family Leave program; however, in a 2007 survey of California adults, only 28.1% were aware of the program. As of mid-2008, the only other states that had passed laws to offer paid family leave benefits were Washington and New Jersey.


In order to qualify for PFL, employees must participate in the State Disability Insurance (SDI) Program.

PFL allows for up to six weeks of paid leave in a twelve-month period.

PFL covers employees who take time off to bond with their own child or their registered domestic partner's child, or a child placed for adoption or foster-care with them or their domestic partner. PFL covers employees who take time off to care for a seriously ill child, parent, spouse or domestic partner.

The employer may require employee to take up to two (2) weeks earned, but unused, vacation prior to the employee’s initial receipt of PFL benefits.

The size of the employer is a non-issue; employees working for small businesses with under fifty employees fully qualify.

There is a seven day waiting period before the employee may receive PFL benefits.

Eligibility expires one year from the minor child's date of birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

For PFL claims in 2005, weekly benefits range from $50 to $840. To qualify for the minimum weekly amount ($50), an individual must have at least $300 in wages in the base period. To qualify for the maximum weekly benefit amount ($840) an individual must earn at least $19,830.92 in a calendar quarter during the base period. The base period covers 12 months and is divided into four quarters of three months each. The wages paid approximately 5 to 17 months before the claim begins are included in the base period (they must be subject to the SDI tax).

Benefits equal approximately 55% of earnings up to the maximum, currently $882, per week.


Mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law are not included as care recipients.

An employee may not receive PFL insurance benefits if he or she is also eligible for or already receiving State Disability Insurance, Unemployment Compensation Insurance, or Workers' Compensation.

An employer is not required to grant time off nor to hold a job for an employee unless the employer is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act] (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).


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