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2021 California Employment Law Updates: What You Need to Know

02 26 2021

The State of California expanded its family and medical leave laws effective January 1, 2021, under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). At AspenHR, we provide PEO services to Asset Management firms, RIAs, and alternative investment funds to ensure they meet the new law updates regardless of their location. California’s 2021 updates will likely provide direction for other states to define employee-sized companies and expansion of family leave definitions:

1. Employers of 5 or more employees covered by CFRA: Until December 31, 2020, CFRA applied only to private employers of 50 or more employees. Starting January 1, 2021, CFRA applies to private employers of 5 or more employees. CFRA also applies to the California state and local governments as employers.

2. Worksite limitation eliminated: To be eligible for CFRA leave, an employee generally has to meet three requirements: have worked for the employer for more than 12 months, have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before their leave, and the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite. Starting January 1, 2021, the worksite mileage requirement is eliminated.

3. Circumstances for CFRA leave expanded: Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of CFRA leave to:
*Care for their own serious health condition.
*Care for certain family members’ severe health conditions or bond with a new child (by birth, adoption, or
foster placement).

SB 1383 did not change these three categories, but it did expand the types of family members for whom CFRA leave can be taken (see #4 below). Also, beginning January 1, 2021, CFRA leave may be taken for “a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States, as specified in Section 3302.2 of the Unemployment Insurance Code.”

4. Types of family members expanded: Currently, CFRA leave may be taken to care for the serious health condition of a spouse, domestic partner, parent, minor child, or dependent adult child. Starting on January 1, 2021, employees may take leave to care for additional family members, including:
*An adult child.
*A child of a domestic partner.
*A grandparent, grandchild, or sibling.

5. Limitation on parents working for the same employer eliminated: Starting January 1, 2021, if both parents of a new child work for the same employer, each parent is entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave. Until December 31, 2020, employers may require parents to split 12 weeks of leave between them.

6. Small employer mediation program created: CFRA applies the same to covered employers regardless of size. However, DFEH offers mediation to smaller employers (5-19 employees) and their employees to resolve any dispute over CFRA leave, before the employee can proceed with a court case. For more information about this program, see Government Code section 12945.21. Employers and employees wishing to take advantage of DFEH’s mediation services should contact DFEH at or any of the channels below.

7. Exceptions eliminated: Starting January 1, 2021, all employees who take CFRA leave have the same reinstatement rights. An exception for an employer’s highest-paid employees is eliminated.

We are a PEO that provides HR compliance, employee benefits, and payroll services to alternative investment managers and financial services firms. Our white-glove service model enables our clients to truly focus on their core business while becoming best-in-class employers.