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¡No Se Deje!
In 2002, California became the first state to provide workers a legal right to PAID time off from work to care for a child, parent, spouse or registered domestic partner suffering from a “Serious Health Condition.” These benefits are also available to bond with a newborn baby or recently adopted or foster child. The benefits must be taken within one year of the birth of a baby or placement of an adopted or foster child in the home.
Benefits can be taken for up to 6 weeks in any 12 month period and are paid at 55% of the worker’s weekly salary to a maximum of $987 per week. The highest earning three month period in the previous 12 months is used to determine the benefit amount. There is a 7 day waiting period before benefits begin. Employees are given great flexibility in deciding how and when to take the paid time off. They can take a few hours or days or weeks at a time or any combination of schedules as their situation requires.
All employees (including undocumented immigrants) that pay into the State Disability system qualify to use Paid Family Leave from the first day of employment. Benefits are paid from the contributions that employees make to the State Disability program. Workers are allowed to receive Paid Family Leave payments while they are on leave under the Federal Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act. This is important because the Federal and California laws do not provide monetary benefits but do require employers to allow the employee to return to work. The Paid Family Leave law does not give workers a right to return to work.
Serious health conditions are illnesses, injuries or impairments or physical or mental conditions that require hospitalization or hospice or residential care or continuing treatment by a doctor. Paid family leave is not available to a worker if someone else in the family is available to care for the sick relative. Only one family member can receive benefits for any 8 hour period and no more than 3 workers can receive benefits in a 24 hour period for caring for the same relative. And paid family leave benefits are not available to workers receiving Unemployment Insurance or State Disability benefits. Employers can require employees to use up to two weeks of vacation and sick leave benefits before they receive paid family leave benefits.
The claim form used to apply for paid family leave benefits can be obtained at any Employment Development Department (EDD) office. The completed form must be filed at an EDD office with a medical certificate. The medical certificate must be completed by a licensed physician and must include the diagnosis, date the condition began, the probable duration, the amount of time needed by the employee and, in the case of a family member, that the employee’s assistance is necessary. Both parents can take paid family leave to bond with a child and they are not required to take the leave at the same time. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.