The Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act are both government laws. They allow an eligible employee under a covered employer to take an unpaid, job-protected leave.
Employees often use these programs to protect their jobs while they:
- See to their medical needs
- Care for a member of their family
- Bond with a new child
- Or participate in another qualifying event/emergency situation
What are the differences between the two?
First, the Family and Medical Leave Act is a law enacted at the federal level, it applies to all states in the nation. The California Family Rights Act is a law enacted exclusively in California; it applies only in this state. Here are four more major differences:
- Pregnancy as a serious health condition is covered under the FMLA but not the CFRA; instead, a pregnant employee in California may use Pregnancy Disability Leave.
- Registered Domestic Partners have the same rights as Spouses under the CFRA but not the FMLA
- A family member being called to active military duty qualifies as a covered event under the FMLA but not the CFRA
- Caring for an injured service member includes spouse, child and parent under both laws, but not next of kin under the CFRA
Violations of the two laws
Sometimes, employers do not apply these laws correctly; they may even act to circumvent their coverage, which is illegal. An employer cannot terminate or retaliate against an employee who uses FMLA or CFRA for an eligible event.
These laws are there specifically to protect the employee. If an employee was unfairly punished for taking a justifiable leave of absence, that person may have grounds to file a lawsuit.