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Explaining the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

April 10, 2024 Legal Team

California offers many benefits to workers in the course of their employment. One such protection is governed by the California Family Rights Act, also known as the Moore-Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act or CFRA. CFRA allows workers to take a leave of absence from their role due under specific circumstances. 

CFRA leave is job-protected, meaning an employee can take it without fear of retaliation or dismissal and that the worker’s job status and station are preserved upon their return.

It’s important to note that not everyone wishing to take protective leave is eligible to receive it. So, in this guide, we’ll explore an individual’s eligibility for CFRA leave, the parameters of that leave, and when to contact a lawyer if your rights have been violated.

After reading this blog, if you’re facing more questions about your leave or benefits, contact us at (949) 822-9220. Our Orange County employment lawyers are happy to help answer any questions you may have. 

Explaining the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

Determining Eligibility To Receive A CFRA Leave Of Absence 

According to the California Civil Rights Department, CFRA leave “provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for their own serious health condition or a family member with a serious health condition, or to bond with a new child.  In addition, California law requires covered employers to provide employees disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition with unpaid, job-protected leave (PDL) and/or accommodations.”

To be eligible to receive this leave, you must meet the following criteria

  • Have more than 12 months of service at an employer with more than 5 full or part-time employees employed
  • Worked at least 1,250 hours in that 12 months of service
  • Your employer is doing business in California

Formerly, individuals had to require employers to have 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite to make them eligible, but this is no longer the case. 

The types of circumstances facing the individual must be any of the following: 

  • Taking job-protected leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster placement.
  • Taking job-protected leave to care for a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, sibling, or other designated person with a serious health condition.
  • Taking job-protected leave because of the employee’s own serious health condition. 
  • Taking job-protected leave related to an emergency surrounding an active duty spouse, partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces.

While this leave does not cover leave related to pregnancy or childbirth, another California worker protection law allows this form of protection, which is called Pregnancy Disability Leave.

Additionally, this leave does not have to be taken in one continuous period but can be taken throughout the 12 month period. 

How Much Notice Do I Need To Give My Employer? 

While sometimes it is impossible to know when a situation may arise that would cause someone to need this type of leave, an employee should attempt to give their notice as take it soon as possible. 

The law dictates that an employer can mandate a minimum of 30 days advanced notice for CFRA leave, but if this is impossible due to the situation, notice should be given as quickly as possible. 

Can My Employer Legally Request A Doctor’s Note? 

Yes, if your request is to care for another sick individual, your employer is eligible to ask for a physician’s note. This note should contain the following information:


  • The date of the condition’s onset,
  • The projected duration of the condition,
  • A time estimate of how long the employee will need to care for the individual,
  • An explanation by the physician or medical professional as to why the condition requires the employee’s long-term care.

Additionally, if you are asking for CFRA leave for your condition, your employer may ask for a doctor’s note, which is also legally acceptable. 

The doctor’s note should supply the following information: 

  • The date of the condition’s onset,
  • The projected duration of the condition, 
  • How a serious medical condition prevents you from performing the functions of your job. 

Do I Get Paid While On CFRA Leave? 

By law, employers are not required to pay anyone who takes CFRA leave. However, some employers may pay their employees who choose to take the CFRA for a portion of the time away or all of that time. 

Additionally, an employer may force employees to take their paid time off (PTO) before their CFRA leave kicks in.

When Should I Hire A Lawyer In My CFRA Case?

Hiring a lawyer is paramount if you believe your rights to CFRA leave have been eroded. The statute mandates that under CA Government Code § 12945.2(t), “it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under this section.”

So, when is it appropriate to bring a lawyer on to assist? 

  • After filing a complaint regarding denial of CFRA leave, hiring an attorney could help you take further action in your case as well as consult with you on your ideal next steps. 
  • If you’ve been retaliated against for requesting or taking CFRA leave. 

Statute Of Limitations In CFRA Cases

There are two deadlines to consider in CFRA cases. First, the victim has one year after the violation to receive a right-to-sue letter from the Department of Fair Employment & Housing. 

After that year, the victim has one year to bring suit against the employer, according to CA Government Code § 12965.

Unsure Of What To Do Next? Call Aegis Law.

Has this blog left you with more questions? Call us at (949) 822-9220 or book a case review online. Our trusted legal team is always happy to hear from individuals who need our extensive workplace law expertise.

If you choose to go through with the case review process, we’ll review the evidence in your potential CFRA case and make recommendations for your next steps.