Alphabet Soup When You’re Sick

When an employee is seriously injured or ill, California and federal law give them many different kinds of protections at work.  Since lawyers and companies love acronyms, employee handbooks are often full of a confusing alphabet soup of terms: CFRA, FMLA, ADA, ADAAA, FEHA, PDLL, PFL, and SDI, to name a few.  Confused yet?  Most people are!

Here is a quick guide to help you decipher all those letters floating around out there:

CFRA – “California Family Rights Act”

The CFRA gives employees up to 12 weeks of leave for their own or a close family member’s “serious health condition,” with protection of the employee’s job.  CFRA leave can help if you are in the hospital with pneumonia, or are put on bed rest at home after a surgery.

FMLA – “Family and Medical Leave Act”

This is the federal version of the CFRA, and usually overlaps with it.

ADA – “Americans with Disabilities Act”

The ADA is the law that protects disabled employees from being fired or discriminated against and tells employers to work with disabled employees to find solutions.  For instance, an employee who has lost a leg might be allowed to use a scooter to get around at work.

ADAAA “Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act”

This law came out a few years ago and offered more protection to employees, mostly by making it easier to show you have a disability.

FEHA – “Fair Employment and Housing Act”

The FEHA is a lot like the ADA.  It used to be a lot more generous to employees than the ADA, until the ADAAA caught federal law up towards the protections California employees already have,

PDLL – “Pregnancy Disability Leave Law”

This California-specific law provides additional job-protected medical leave – up to four months – for a woman disabled by her pregnancy, like if she is put on bed rest or has severe preeclampsia.

PFL – “Paid Family Leave”

PFL is not a kind of leave and does not give an employee extra time away from work.  It is a state program that can help pay an employee a little bit to help ends meet if an employee cannot work while taking care of a family member.

SDI – Short-term Disability Insurance

This is also a state program that can help an employee with financial benefits when the employee is disabled and cannot work.