New Employment Protections in California

Amendments to the California Family Rights Act and new bereavement entitlement 

On Sept. 29, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law two bills that provide new leave of absence rights to California employees. Both are effective on Jan. 1, 2023. Read on to learn more. 

California Bereavement Law 

In Assembly Bill 1949, California enacted a new bereavement leave law requiring an employer to provide five days of unpaid bereavement leave for employees. The law contains the following provisions:  

Employee Eligibility: Employees who have been employed by the employer for at least 30 days prior to the start day of the leave are eligible. 

Covered Employer: Employers who employ five or more employees are covered by this law, plus the state and any political or civil subdivision of the state, including cities and counties. 

Covered Family Members: Employees may take leave to grieve the loss of their spouse or domestic partner, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or parent-in-law. 

Leave Allotment: An employee can take up to five days of bereavement leave. Leave can be taken consecutively or intermittently, but must be completed within three months of the date of the family member’s death. 

Concurrent Use: Bereavement leave is separate and distinct from leave provided under California Family Rights Act (CFRA). If the employer has no paid bereavement leave policy, the bereavement leave may be unpaid. An employee can use vacation, personal leave, accrued and available sick leave, or other compensatory time off that is available to the employee.  

Certification: Employers can require that the employee provide documentation of the death of the family member. This requirement can be satisfied by a death certificate, a published obituary, or written verification of death, burial, or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution, or governmental agency, or other appropriate documentation. 

Job Protection: An employer cannot take any adverse employment action against an employee who uses bereavement leave or interfere with any of the rights provided by the new law. 

Confidentiality: The employer must maintain the confidentiality of any employee requesting bereavement leave under this section.  

Amendment to California Family Rights Act and Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act 

Existing law, CFRA, provides 12 weeks of leave for family care and medical leave for employees who work for an employer with five or more employees. The newly passed amendment, Assembly Bill 1041, expands the class of people for which an employee may take leave for family care to include a “designated person.” A “designated person” is defined as any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. The employee must identify the designated person at the time the employee requests the leave, and an employee can be limited to one designated person per 12-month period. 

The amendment also adds “designated person” to the list of covered relationships for the California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, which provides employees with paid sick days to be used for an employee or family member’s existing health condition or preventive care. For purpose of this law, “designated person” is defined as a person identified by the employee at the time the employee requests paid sick days. An employer may limit an employee to one designated person per 12-month period for paid sick days. 

How is FINEOS helping carriers and employers prepare for the newly passed laws? 

FINEOS will be ready to administer the changes by the effective date of the laws. Using modern insurance technology solutions like the FINEOS Platform can help insurance carriers remain agile and competitive when leave legislation passes. Learn more about how a modern, integrated disability and absence management (IDAM) solution can help your organization adapt to sudden changes and remain in compliance.  

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