New Employment Leave-of-Absence Laws Coming to California

New Employment Leave-of-Absence Laws Coming to California

Most of us have been so focused on the laws and how they evolve with the pandemic that we have forgotten that while we’ve been trying to figure out how to self-isolate, the government is still passing laws and tweaking existing laws. As a result of these government decisions, some big changes are coming in 2021. 

One big change that will impact the majority of California’s residents are changes that were made to employment laws. These changes were passed in the fall of 2020 and go into effect on January 1, 2021.

The new law is SB 1383. It is designed to expand the current California Family Rights Act (CFRA). While it is employment law, it really only impacts small businesses that have less than 50 but more than 5 employees. 

One of the things that the SB 1383 changes is what employers have to consider family members. In the past, a person had to be a parent, child, or spouse for you to get a leave of absence to care for them. Now siblings have been added to the list of family members your employer has to honor. 

The new changes require the employer to provide 12 weeks of leave if you need to care for a sibling. You can add another 12 weeks of leave by invoking the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

Up until now, victims of domestic violence had limited options when it came to them keeping their jobs and protecting themselves. That changes in January. In September, the governor signed off on AB 2992. 

This is another expansion law that deals specifically with leave of absence and employees who have been abuse and crime victims. When this law goes into effect in January, employers can’t deny an employee when they ask for time off so that they can seek medical help as a result of a crime/abuse, have to handle a legal issue connected to the crime/abuse., or need some time off for some other type of related relief.

The final law that changes how leave of absences will work in 2021 is AB 2017. This particular expansion law doesn’t so much alter how much leave time you can take but rather impacts how it’s classified. The addition of AB 2017 is that employees will have an easier time declaring “kin care” when they need to take time off to help an injured or sick relative. Prior to AB 2017, many employees were forced to use their accrued sick days.

It’s important that both employees and employers are aware of these changes. Employers need to be aware of them, so they don’t inadvertently do something that jeopardizes their business license. Employees need to know the laws so that they understand exactly how to ask for a leave of absence.

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