Industry Insight

3 important updates to your Employee handbook for 2021

Historically, mandatory family and medical leave laws have not applied to small businesses.  For California employers, however, that changed effective January 1, 2021, when the California Family Rights Act was made applicable to employers of five or more employers (the previous minimum was 50 employees).  If you have not already done so, learning about the CFRA and preparing to administer it should be a very high priority for you.  According to David Monks, one of the top labor attorneys in California, he states there are three key features: 

  • Twelve weeks of leave for numerous purposes — Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid family care and medical leave in a one-year period for purposes that include bonding with a newly born, adopted, or foster-placed child; the employee’s serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the job; and caring for the employee’s family member who has a serious health condition.

  • Benefits continuation and Use of Vacation/PTO — During the leave, the employer must maintain group health insurance on the same terms as if the employee was working. The leave is unpaid, but an employee may elect to use, or an employer may require an employee to use, any accrued vacation time or PTO available to the employee.

  • Guarantee of job reinstatement — With narrow exceptions, the employee is entitled to be reinstated to their job or a comparable position. 

To minimize the chance of claims that your company interfered with an employee’s CFRA rights or retaliated against an employee for using CFRA leave, David recommends the following:

  1. Add a written CFRA policy to your employee handbook.  At the very least, distribute a standalone policy until you update your handbook.

  2. Display in your workplace the Department of Fair Employment and Housing poster found here:

  3. Designate two or more employees as your CFRA administrators.  Ensure that they receive sufficient education and training.

  4. Prepare template forms – for employee to request CFRA leave; for doctor to certify a serious health condition

  5. Prepare template letters/emails – to acknowledge employee’s request and, if applicable ask for additional information; to designate the leave as CFRA leave, or not; to guarantee reinstatement in writing, if the employee so requests

Investing time now will lead to more smooth handling of employees’ leave requests going forward.

For more information on this subject, please reach out to David Monks, his contact information is below and on his firm’s website HERE  

David B. Monks

Fuller Law Group P.C.
9565 Waples Street, Suite 200
San Diego, CA  92121

Telephone (858) 450-4050
Facsimile (858) 450-4051
Mobile (619) 990-1318 (no “m”)

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