Leaves in California have always been complicated, no doubt, but now there’s one more factor that can tangle up even those who are well versed in the subject. As of January 2005, California employers need to follow the Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act which allows an employee in a registered domestic partner relationship to take time off to care for his/her partner under CFRA. Unlike other similar leaves, CFRA and FMLA does NOT run concurrently in this case as federal law does not recognize domestic partners as having the same rights as married couples (something I really don’t understand) and therefore does not apply in a domestic partner situation. This can then allow an employee to take 24 weeks of leave per year, rather than the traditional 12.
Let’s say that an employee takes off 12 weeks to care for a domestic partner who is ill. Because FMLA cannot be applied here, CFRA runs alone. Later that year, the employee informs you that he/she has a qualifying personal health condition that would leave him/her unable to perform the essential functions of the job or perhaps he/she needs to care for a parent or child. That employee has the right to an additional 12 weeks under FMLA, totalling 24 weeks per year of protected leave. Pregnancy is a whole other can of worms, which I’m not going to go into now.
It’s definitely confusing, particularly if you’re like most HR professionals and are juggling a number of LOA’s at once. All you can do is address each situation individually, making sure that employee is aware of his/her rights at all times.
This article helps to break it down.
I guess I’m a little slow to the punch on this one. Well, better late than never I guess.