Tuesday, April 14, 2009

California Has Its “Own FMLA Regulations”

The U.S. Department of Labor published new regulations governing the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The rules became effective on January 16, 2009.

California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) is called “California version of FMLA”. There are many similarities between CFRA and FMLA, but a HR professional should also know the differences between the two leave acts.

The new FMLA regulation can not be fully applied in California because California has its own separate statutory and regulatory scheme. The Fair Employment and Housing Commission, The California agency responsible for regulating CFRA, issued a statement and a chart comparing the two Acts and their regulations.

On November 17, 2008, the federal Department of Labor issued revised regulations interpreting the FMLA. These new regulations differ from comparable regulations that the Commission had issued interpreting the California Family Rights Act. The Commission plans to revise its CFRA regulations. It has made a comparison between the revised FMLA regulations and the Commission’s CFRA regulations.”

Although we do not have a clear idea when the new CFRA regulations will be proposed, and we do not know whether the new regulation will make a closer step to the new FMLA, there is one thing for sure: Employers must of course comply with both state and federal law.

The following are some examples.

Domestic Partners. CFRA covers leave to care for “spouses” in the traditional sense of the word and registered domestic spouses, while in FMLA registered domestic spouses are excluded.

Military Leave. FMLA now includes 26 weeks of leave to care for injured family members in the military, and 12 weeks of leave for “qualified exigencies” related to certain military deployments. California does not offer this right, although in a separate statute spouses of certain military members may take leaves.

Overtime. Under FMLA, overtime hours that would have been worked but for leave can be deducted from the 12 week leave entitlement. The employer has no such expression under CFRA.

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