Anticouni & Ricotta

California employees gain more rights to sick, bereavement leave

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2023 | Wage And Hour Claims |

Employment laws in the U.S. around family and medical leave – let alone paid leave – are far behind those of many industrialized countries. Here in California, our state laws are more employee-friendly than those in most other states.

A couple of changes effective at the beginning of this year are further steps in the right direction. They involve both paid and unpaid family and medical leave.

Expanding when you can take paid sick leave

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allows an employee to take unpaid leave in order to take care of a “designated person.” The law has previously defined this as “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” 

The definition of “designated person” has been changed to “a person identified by the employee at the time the employee requests paid sick days.” This would allow people considerably more latitude to use their paid leave to help out a friend, neighbor or anyone close to them even if they don’t have “the equivalent of a family relationship.”

Employers are now required to allow unpaid bereavement leave

People whose employers allow paid bereavement leave may not realize that California businesses haven’t been legally required to allow an employee to take any time off when a loved one dies. 

A new law requires California employers to allow employees who’ve been with the company for at least a month to take a maximum of five days of bereavement leave after a close family member dies. It doesn’t have to be paid leave, and it can be taken intermittently over three months – for example, to attend various services or memorials. If an employer already allows paid bereavement time off, these additional five unpaid days can still be taken.

Unfortunately, not all employers comply with the law. Some aren’t always aware of changes to the law. If your employer isn’t allowing you the leave to which you’re entitled (paid or unpaid) under the law, you have a right to speak up. If that doesn’t resolve the situation, you may want to seek legal guidance to protect your rights.

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