Family First Coronavirus Response Act: What Employees Need to Know!

[UPDATE: The President signed the Family First Coronavirus Response Act into Law on March 18, 2020]

First and foremost, my thoughts go out to anyone who has been affected by the coronavirus. Please remain vigilant, safe and healthy! 

As if we haven’t been on high-alert over the coronavirus, many are now experiencing a new reason to keep us up at night: Anxiety over job and income security. According to a recent study more than half of American jobs are at risk because of coronavirus. That’s crazy and incredibly upsetting. 

Luckily, the Senate has passed H.R. 6201 — also known as the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Family First Act”) — in an effort to provide emergency relief and support during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic. The bill now awaits President Trump’s signature, which he is expected to do. Once he signs on the dotted line, it will become effective in 15 days [April 1, 2020].

There are multiple sections of the “Family First Act,” but there are two key provisions that pertain to employee leave rights and wage replacement: 1) The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act; and The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. 

To save you time reading through the whole bill, I’ve distilled the key information in an (hopefully) easy-to-read FAQ. 

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act 

What is it? 

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Expansion Act expands the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide a new type of covered public health emergency leave. 

Under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act, eligible employees are entitled to 12 workweeks of job-protected leave when they are unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for their child under 18 years if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency. Of note, the Act defines a “public health emergency” as an emergency with respect to coronavirus declared by Federal, State, or local authority only. 

It’s important to note that as of today, this is now the only qualifying reason under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act. This is a significant change from the previous version of the bill passed by the House just a few days ago, which included other coronavirus-related reasons. Those reasons originally included were (I don’t mean to rub salt on wounds, but I figured it best to keep everyone informed of these changes). : 

  • To comply with a recommendation or order by a public official or health care provider that the employee remain out of work because of (i) exposure of the employee to Coronavirus, or (ii) the employee exhibits symptoms of Coronavirus (where the employee is otherwise unable to comply with the recommendation/order and perform the functions of their role);
  • To care for a family member whose presence in the community, as determined by a public health official or a health care provider, would jeopardize the community’s health; and

Is the 12 weeks of leave provided under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act in addition to what I’m entitled to under “traditional” FMLA? 

No, as the name describes, this Act only expands the “traditional” FMLA in respect to leave taken as a result of having to care for a child whose school has closed due to COVID-19. As a reminder, the total amount of leave available under FMLA is 12 workweeks. The Emergency FMLA Expansion Act does NOT change this. Leave taken under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act counts toward an employee’s 12-week FMLA entitlement, and vice versa. 

For example, say your child’s school has shut down due to coronavirus and you need to take leave to care for your child. However, you previously took 4 weeks of FMLA leave for your serious health condition. In this scenario, you would only have 8 weeks of FMLA available to you for taking leave to care for your child whose school has shut down. It’s not perfect, but it’s something. 

Is the leave paid? 

The first 10 days of this leave (rather than 14 days, as originally drafted) may be unpaid but an employee can elect to substitute accrued paid time off (i.e. sick, vacation, PTO) during this time, including using paid sick time pursuant to the Emergency Paid Sick Act (see below for more info). It’s important to note that under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act, unlike “traditional” FMLA, an employer cannot require the use of available paid time off if the employee elects not to use it during the first 10 days of leave. 

After the first 10 days, employers generally must provide paid leave in the amount of two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours he/she would have otherwise worked. The reason why I say “generally” is because the Act limits the pay to $200/day and $10,000 in the aggregate per employee. 

For employees who work a part-time or irregular schedule, the daily rate of pay is calculated by taking an average of the number of hours the employee worked per day over a 6-month period prior to taking Emergency FMLA.

Will this apply to my employer? 

The Emergency FMLA Expansion Act applies to all employers with 500 or fewer employees. 

Note, this means that employers with 1 to 500 employees will be considered “covered” employers under this Act. This is a significant expansion from “traditional” FMLA, which is limited to private employers with 50 or more employees. 

But there may be some limitations. Per the language in the Act, the Secretary of Labor would have the authority to exclude certain health care providers and emergency responders from coverage, as well as certain employers with fewer than 50 employees if imposing such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the employer’s business.

Also, this applies to all public agencies, regardless of size. 

Which employees are eligible? 

The Emergency FMLA Expansion Act applies to any employee who works for a “covered” employer (as defined above) and has been employed for at least 30 calendar days. This too is a significant expansion from the “traditional” FMLA eligibility criteria, which requires that employees be employed for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours. 

Will my job be protected if I take leave covered under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act

Employees working for employers with 25 or more employees are entitled to the same job-protection rights as “traditional” FMLA. Generally, FMLA requires employers to restore covered employees to the job they had before they took leave. 

Unfortunately, employers with fewer than 25 employees are not required to comply with FMLA’s job restoration if the employee’s position when they begin leave does not exist due to economic conditions or other changes in the employer’s operating conditions that (1) affect employment and (2) are caused by a public health emergency during the leave period. If reinstatement is not required, an employer would be required to make reasonable efforts to contact the employee if an equivalent position becomes available for up to a year following the employee’s leave. 

EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE ACT

In addition to the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, the other major provision coming out of the Family First Act is the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. 

What is it? 

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which operates in tandem with the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act, requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide up to 2 weeks of paid sick leave to all employees for certain covered purposes related to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The covered purposes related to the Coronavirus outbreak include: 

  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in subparagraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).
  5. The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Will I be paid? 

Yes.

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides full-time employees with up to 80 hours of paid leave. Part-time employees are entitled to the number of hours equal to hours they’ve worked, on average, over a 2-week period.

If employees use emergency paid sick leave for reasons 1-3 (see above), then employers must pay the employee their full salary during the period of leave, based on their regular rate of pay, up to a limit of $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.

If employees use emergency paid sick leave for reasons 4-6 (see above), then employers must provide pay at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to a limit of $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate.

Will this apply to my employer?

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act applies to all private employers with fewer than 500 employees. In addition, all public employers are covered by the Act, regardless of size.

Which employees are eligible? 

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act applies to all employees regardless of how long the employee has been employed by the employer. However, the employee must work for a “covered employer,” as defined above. 

Any other important things to note about the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act? 

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act is in addition to any paid sick leave already offered by an employer. Also, an employer may not require that an employee going out on leave search for or find a replacement employee to cover their hours/shift. Further, an employer may not require an employee to use other paid leave before using paid sick time under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. 

OTHER QUESTIONS

Will the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act and/or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act apply if I’m unable to work due to my employer closing down business? 

Unfortunately, most likely, no. 

To be eligible for either the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act and/or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, the need for leave must fall into one of the covered leave reason(s) for each respective Act. 

For example, say you’re a server at a restaurant, and your employer temporarily shuts down business operations due to coronavirus concerns. Since your reason for being unable to work does not fall within the covered reasons for Emergency FMLA Expansion Act and/or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, you would not be eligible for benefits under these Acts. However, you may be eligible for wage replacement under statutory state programs, such as unemployment insurance. If you’re in California, check out these helpful FAQs from the EDD (here and here).

When will these laws become effective? 

The bill now awaits President Trump’s signature, which he is expected to do. Once he does, both of these laws will become effective in 15 days (April 1, 2020). Also, these are temporary laws, expected to sunset on December 31, 2020.  [UPDATE: The President signed the Family First Coronavirus Response Act into Law on March 18, 2020]

Will these Acts apply to Federal employees?

Most employees of the federal government are covered by Title II of FMLA, which was not amended by this Act; and therefore, NOT covered under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act. However, federal employees covered by Title II of FMLA are covered under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.

Lastly, there may be additional changes between now and when it gets to the President’s desk. I’ll update this post with any new developments.

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California Extends Paid Family Leave Benefits to 8 Weeks!

Thanks to Governor Newsom, who signed Senate Bill 83, the maximum duration of Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits will increase from 6 weeks to 8 weeks, beginning on July 1, 2020.

This is very good news for anyone who needs to take time off from work to bond with a new child entering their life either by birth, adoption, or foster care placement; as well as those needing to take time off to care for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner. Big shout out to Gov. Newsom for thinking about families in California!

Before anyone gets excited about paid leave, it’s important to address that PFL is NOT a protected leave of absence. It only provides wage replacement. You must be eligible for CFRA or NPLA in order for your job to be protected while taking time off to collect PFL (check out this post to learn more about how CFRA/NPLA interacts with PFL). If you are not eligible for CFRA or NPLA, then you would need to request a leave of absence from your employer in order to take the time off to collect PFL (check out this post for more information).

Also, there are a couple of unanswered questions regarding the increase in PFL benefits:

1. Does my baby have to be born after July 1, 2020, for me to take eight weeks of paid leave?

The EDD has not yet confirmed whether new mothers who have filed SDI for their pregnancy-related disability prior to July 1, 2020, will receive the increased 8-week PFL benefit (or will be locked into the current 6-week PFL benefit) when transitioning to PFL from SDI. 

2. Will my PFL benefit amount be paid at the same rate as my SDI? 

Most likely. EDD has not yet confirmed if the PFL benefit amount will be recalculated, or if the PFL benefit amount will be paid out at the same rate as SDI, as it is the case currently.

I’ll continue to keep my ear to the ground on any new developments or confirmation on the PFL increase. In the meantime, check out this informative FAQ with Loree Levy, Deputy Director of the Employment Development Department (EDD).

 

Back-to-back pregnancies: What happens to my maternity leave?

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, what better topic to cover than IRISH TWINS!

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Here’s the scenario….what happens when a California mother delivers two babies within the same year (otherwise known as Irish Twins!)? What leave laws will the mother be entitled to in this situation? (Shout out to the reader who posted this question!)

First off, Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) is per pregnancy. So, no matter how soon you become pregnant with Baby #2 you will be fully entitled to PDL. PDL provides up to 17.3 weeks of unpaid job protected leave for the purpose of pregnancy, childbirth, and other related conditions. As emphasized in my How To Milk Your Benefits post, you don’t get all 17.3 weeks of PDL. The actual duration of your leave is for however long your doctor certifies your disability. The “standard” duration of disability for pregnancy and childbirth is 4 weeks before the estimated due date and 6 weeks after birth for a vaginal delivery or 8 weeks after for a c-section. If you experience any complications during your pregnancy and/or after birth, your doctor can certify an extension(s) beyond the “standard” duration.

Okay, so far pretty straight forward….you get PDL because you’re pregnant again. Woot woot! But, now the trick(ier) part. Assuming you work for a CFRA-eligible employer, the big question here is whether you would be eligible for CFRA bonding leave for Baby #2. The answer to this depends on how your employer resets the clock on CFRA.

As a reminder, the eligibility requirements for CFRA are as follows:

  • Must work for an employer with 20+ employees within a 75 mile radius.
  • Have worked for the employer for at least one year
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours within the past year

Also – as a reminder – a CFRA-eligible employee will get an additional 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave for the purpose of bonding with baby following PDL.

There are 4 different ways an employer can reset the clock on CFRA. Employers may select any of the following methods, but the method must be applied consistently and uniformly for all employees.

1. The Calendar Year 
Pretty self-explanatory here. You get 12 weeks of CFRA each calendar year (January 1 through December 31).

2. Any Fixed 12-Months
Also pretty self-explanatory. You get 12 weeks of CFRA each fixed year (i.e fiscal year, employment anniversary date, etc).

3. The 12-Month Measured Forward
The 12-month period is measured forward from the first date an employee takes CFRA. Then, the next 12-month period would begin the first time CFRA leave is taken after completion of the prior 12-month period. Sounds complicated, but it’s not….

Example: If you took CFRA leave for Baby #1 on June 1, 2017, then the next 12-week period would begin on June 1, 2018.

4. The “Rolling” 12-Month Period Measured Backward.
This is the most complicated method used. The 12-month period is measured backward from the date an employee uses any CFRA leave. Under the “rolling” 12-month period, each time an employee takes CFRA, the remaining leave entitlement would be the balance of the 12 weeks which has not been used during the immediately preceding 12 months. Ummm, huhhhh? 

Example: You request to take CFRA leave for Baby #2 on June 1, 2018. Your employer looks back 12 months from June 2, 2017 through June 1, 2018 to see if any CFRA has been taken. As long as you haven’t used any CFRA time during that period, you would be eligible for the full 12 weeks of CFRA on June 1, 2018. If you’ve used some CFRA during that time, you would be eligible for just the remaining balance.

Also – super important – regardless of the method used, you still need to meet the 1,250 hours worked requirement again prior to the start of your leave. If you’re taking CFRA leave immediately following PDL, the 1,250 hours must be met preceding your PDL; and if there’s a gap between PDL and CFRA, then the 1,250 hours must be met immediately preceding your CFRA leave.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where you might have recently taken a CFRA leave of absence – whether it be because you were bonding with a baby or you were using CFRA to care for a spouse, parent or ill child – check with your employer to see which method they use.

Note, PDL and CFRA provide unpaid job protection. To find out more about wage replacement programs – SDI and PFL – check out this post.

Calculating Your SDI and PFL Amount (Updated Info)

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As of January 1, 2018, benefit rates for both SDI and PFL have increased from 55% to either 60% or 70%, depending on income. I’ll get into the nitty-gritty in just a bit, but for now, to get an idea of what your SDI and PFL benefits might be, check out this handy-dandy calculator. This calculator really should only be used to get an approximate figure since there are a number of factors (i.e. health insurance premiums deducted pre-tax) that can adjust your gross wage.

If you want to learn exactly how your benefit amount is calculated, read on. Otherwise, you can just rely on the calculator for an estimate, but you know what they say….”knowledge is power!”

First and foremost, to be eligible for SDI and PFL, you must have been or currently paying into CA SDI taxes through your payroll deductions. If you aren’t sure, take a look at your pay stubs and you’ll find deductions for something along the lines of CASDI, SDI, or DI. If you’ve got that, you’re golden. Moving on….

Your SDI/PFL benefit amount is based on the quarter with the highest gross wages earned within a particular base period. Your base period varies depending on what month you file for disability (see chart below).

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 11.30.52 AM

A base period covers 12 months and is divided into four consecutive quarters. The base period includes gross wages subject to SDI tax which were paid approximately 5 to 18 months before your disability claim began. Of note, the base period does not include wages paid at the time your disability begins. For a SDI claim to be valid, you must have at least $300 in wages in the base period.

To determine if you are eligible for benefits at 60% or 70%, your highest earning quarter is compared to the State Average Quarterly Wages (SAQW). Those who earned less than one-third of the SAQW will get the 70%; and those who earned one-third or more of the SAQW will get the 60%. One-third of the SAQW is $5,229.98. So, here’s how it breaks down:

  • If your highest quarterly earnings are less than $929, your weekly benefit amount (WBA) is $50.
  • If your highest quarterly earnings are between $929 and $5,229.98, your WBA is approximately 70 percent of your earnings.
  • If your highest quarterly earnings are more than $5,229.98, your weekly benefit amount is EITHER approximately 60 percent of your earnings OR 23.3% of the state average weekly wage ($281.21), whichever is greater.

Now, for some examples…

Example 1

Shelly goes out on disability on April 1, 2018, giving her a base period of January 2017 to December 2017. She had the following gross wages in each quarter:

  • January – March: $11,000
  • April – June: $10,000
  • July – September: $10,000
  • October – December: $9,000

Shelly’s highest earning quarter ($11,000) is greater than one-third of the SAQW ($5,229.98), so she is eligible for benefits at 60%. Then, her weekly benefit amount is calculated as follows: 

  1.  Find the weekly wages earned by dividing the highest earning quarter by 13 (13 weeks in a quarter): $11,000 / 13= $846.15
  2. Determine benefit rate at 60%: $846.15 x .6 = $507.70
  3. Compare the calculated benefit (found in step 2) to 23.3% of the state weekly average of $281.21. Since her benefit amount is greater than the SWA, she is eligible for the greater amount; therefore, her benefit amount is $507.70.

Example 2

Beth goes out on leave on March 1, 2018, giving her a base period of October 2016 to September 2017. She had the following gross wages in each quarter:

  • October – December: $4,500
  • January – March: $3,000
  • April – June: $5,000
  • July – September: $3,400

Beth’s highest earning quarter ($5,000) is less than one-third of the SAQW ($5,229.98), so she is eligible for benefits at 70%. Then, her weekly benefit amount is calculated as follows:

  • Find the weekly wages earned by dividing the highest earning quarter by 13 (13 weeks in a quarter): $5,000 / 13= $384.62
  • Determine benefit rate at 70%: $384.62 x .7 = $269.23

Example 3

Joe just had a baby and goes out on PFL leave on November 1, 2018, giving him a base period of July 2017 to June 2018. He had the following gross wages in each quarter:

  • July – September: $5,090
  • October – December: $6,000
  • January – March: $5,500
  • April – June: $6,050

Joe’s highest earning quarter ($6,050) is greater than one-third of the SAQW ($5,229.98), so he is eligible for benefits at 60%. Then, his weekly benefit amount is calculated as follows:

  • Find the weekly wages earned by dividing the highest earning quarter by 13 (13 weeks in a quarter): $6,050 / 13= $465.38
  • Determine benefit rate at 60%: $465.38 x .6 = $279.23
  • Compare the calculated benefit (found in step 2) to 23.3% of the state weekly average of $281.21. Since his benefit amount ($279.23) is less than the SWA, he is eligible to receive the greater amount; therefore, his benefit amount is $281.21.

Also, of note, for claims beginning on or after January 1, 2018, weekly benefits range from $50 to a maximum of $1,216. To qualify for the maximum weekly benefit amount ($1,216) you must earn at least $26,325.01 in a calendar quarter during your base period.

There you have it! Easy as 1-2-3…hmmm, maybe not? But for real, the next time your kid (or your kid in the future) says “math sucks; we’ll never have to use it in real life so why do I have to do it?,” here’s an example you can throw at them. #lifelessons

2018: Important Updates to Maternity Leave

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2018…more like, two thousand – GREAT-een! (sorry, I had to do it!)

First, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, as well as a fantastic start to their new year! Second, I clearly need to make updating this blog a new year’s resolution. I’ve still been super active on spreading the good word on maternity leave info, but I’ve been doing it mainly on my Facebook Group, California Maternity Leave Support (Update: sorry, this Facebook group is no longer active). But alas, new year, new goals – I’ll start updating this blog more often! Okay, with that said, let’s get down to some California maternity leave business….

2018 brings two major updates to the world of maternity leave for California residents.

1.Bonding leave extends to employers with 20+ employees:

Effective January 1, 2018, the California New Parent Leave Act (NPLA) requires employers with over 20 employees within a 75 mile radius to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

Previously bonding leave was limited to those working for larger employers with over 50+ employees. However, thanks to NPLA, employers with 20-49 employees are now subject to CFRA regulations applicable to leave for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of an employee’s child.

Note that all other CFRA eligibility requirements remain the same. This includes 1) having worked at least a year with your employer, and 2) having clocked in at least 1,250 WORKING hours during the 12-month period immediately prior to the date the leave is to commence.

It’s important to note that NPLA only affects the “baby bonding” component of CFRA. As such, an employee eligible for NPLA is not entitled to other forms of leave provided by the CFRA. For example, if you need to take leave for your own serious health condition under CFRA, the 50+ employee requirement for CFRA eligibility still remains.

Further, NPLA has no effect on FMLA or its eligibility requirements (i.e. the 50+ employee requirement for FMLA remains the same). But, remember, in California, in the context of maternity leave, FMLA really doesn’t matter since Pregnancy Disability Leave (a state law) supersedes FMLA. Plus, PDL is more generous than FMLA, giving pregnant women UP TO 17.3 weeks of leave vs. 12 weeks under FMLA, and PDL is available to those who work at companies with 5+ employees. FMLA, if applicable, will simply run in the background of PDL.

So, what does this mean for ME and my maternity leave?

This means that if you work for a company with 20+ employees and was previously not allowed in to the “CFRA club” (untz untz untz), you are now covered under NPLA. And as a result, you’ll get an additional 12 weeks to bond with your baby after you’re done with the PDL portion of your leave. At minimum, here’s what your leave timeline would look like:

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Thanks NPLA and California for giving those hard-working mammas and pappas at smaller businesses some more QT with their bebes!

For more info on maternity leave 101, check out this post.

2. Increases to California SDI and PFL Benefit Amounts

The second update is the increase to SDI and PFL benefit amounts. As of January 1, 2018, thanks to AB 903, wage replacement rates for SDI and PFL increased from 55% to:

  • 70% for those who earned less than one-third of the state’s average quarterly wage during the base period (prior four quarters); OR
  • 60% for those who earned one-third or more of the state’s average quarterly wage during the base period (prior four quarters).

I’ll be doing a blog post on how to calculate your benefit amount soon, so stay tuned. Further, the bill also eliminated the 7-day unpaid waiting period for PFL. Note, the waiting period for SDI remains intact.

So, there you have it! Some nice updates to your maternity leave plans!

If you have questions regarding California maternity leave, or would like more information on how I can provide individualized support to help maximize your maternity leave, please visit Maternity Leave 411.

 

 

 

 

California Maternity Leave: What am I eligible for?

The United States offers a pretty shitty maternity leave program. In fact, the U.S. is only one of three countries that doesn’t guarantee a paid maternity leave (the others are Papua New Guinea and Oman). W T F!

So, if you’re pregnant and just starting your maternity leave research, the first step is to understand what you are eligible for at the state and federal levels.

The five main “components” to California maternity leave — all of which have some sort of eligibility requirement — include FMLA (job protection), PDL (job protection), SDI (wage replacement), CFRA (job protection), and PFL (wage replacement). I’ll get into each one below, so read on, sista’!

FMLA Eligibility 

The United States offers a federal maternity leave program called Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave for a serious health condition (pregnancy is considered a “serious health condition”) and for the birth and care of your newborn child.

While FMLA is a federal program, you must still meet the following requirements:

  • Your employer employs at least 50 people within a 75-mile radius of your worksite
  • You have worked for your employer for at least 12 months (even on a part-time or temporary basis)
  • You have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before the leave

These eligibility requirements sadly leave out many women who work at small companies or are self-employed. In fact, two in five women don’t qualify for leave under FMLA, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. SMDH!

PDL Eligibility

For California residents, however, there is a state law called the Pregnancy Disibility Law, which provides women the right to take job-protected unpaid leave for a pregnancy-related condition. Health care providers will generally certify a pregnancy disability leave for 10 to 12 weeks for a normal pregnancy. The criteria, which are much more lenient than FMLA, are the following:

  • Disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, and
  • Work for an employer who employs at least 5 employees

Because PDL covers many more workers, women who don’t qualify for job protection under FMLA may still be entitled to take unpaid leave for a pregnancy-related condition under PDL. Also, if you’re eligible for FMLA, your PDL leave will run at the same time as your FMLA leave because both laws cover pregnancy-related conditions.

State Disability Eligibility 

FMLA and PDL do not offer wage replacements – only job protection. But, if you qualify for FMLA and/or PDL, you can typically claim State Disability Insurance (SDI) while you’re on FMLA/PDL leave to get partial wage replacements at around 55% of your total weekly pay.

To be eligible for SDI during your maternity leave you must have earned at least $300 from which SDI deductions were withheld during a previous period. To confirm this, look at your paycheck and there should be a line item noting this deduction. And, you must be under the care and treatment of a licensed doctor during your leave, which is obvi since you’re pregnant.

CFRA Eligibility 

The great state of California provides another bonus for new moms with a state law called the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). CFRA provides 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protection leave for the birth of a child for purposes of bonding. (Note: FMLA/PDL covers pregnancy and childbirth recovery, whereas CFRA covers child bonding).

The eligibility requirements for CFRA are pretty much the same as FMLA.

PFL Eligibility 

Similar to FMLA, CFRA does not offer wage replacement. However, while you are out on CFRA leave, you are eligible for wage replacements under the Paid Family Leave (PFL) program.

The eligibility requirements for PFL are the same as SDI, so those covered by SDI are automatically covered for PFL. The wage replacement is the same at 55% of your total wages as well.

 

Okay, so what does this all mean?!

In a nutshell if you are eligible for FMLA and CFRA, you’ll get at least 22 weeks of maternity leave (24 weeks if you have a c-section). Here’s a timeline:

FMLA/CFRA Eligible Maternity Leave

FMLA/CFRA Eligible Maternity Leave

For an even more detailed rundown of California maternity leave, check out this post on how to Milk Your Benefits!

And, if you are not eligible for FMLA/CFRA, have no fear, check out this post on what your coverage looks like.

 

 

Maternity Leave Tip of the Day: 4

Maternity leave can be a very delicate time for a family. Aside from the profound new challenges that come with taking care of a newborn (seriously, you’d think evolution has done a better job at making newborns more self sufficient!), maternity leave can bring up financial concerns that may not have affected your family previously.

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In California, eligible employees are entitled to a period of paid maternity leave, but the pay is partial at about 55%. [Get the full scoop on what you’re entitled to here]. Having your salary reduced to a little less than half of what you normally bring in can be shocking and can put stress on an already stressful situation.

Several months before you set off on maternity leave, do talk to your spouse/partner (or a professional financial advisor) about your financial situation so you know where you stand before the baby arrives. Once you get an accurate picture, you can work together as a family to save and cut out any unnecessary or “I won’t die without that” costs (i.e. Starbucks, downgraded or no cable).

Also, keep track of the checks you’re getting from disability (SDI) and paid family leave to ensure you’re being paid the correct amounts. You obviously don’t want to be underpaid (hell no!), but getting overpaid will create annoying issues with the Employment Development Department (EDD, the folks who pay you during maternity leave) later on.

Happy maternity leave!

If you’ve been in this situation where you had to assess your finances before/during maternity leave, tell us about it in the comments. What did you do to reduce costs and save?