thumbnailBy Dana Peterson

Breaking News: New CFRA regulations will take effect July 1, 2015.

Mandatory paid sick leave will not be the only new rule affecting California employers this summer. Also effective on July 1 are amendments to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) regulations, just approved by the Office of Administrative Law. These regulations will more closely align the CFRA with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations. This is welcome news to California employers who have grappled with the overlay of the FMLA regulations (amended in 2008) and the pre-2008 CFRA regulations (which did not incorporate the FMLA’s 2008 amended regulations.)  Nonetheless, some differences still exist between state and federal family and medical leave laws, including how the CFRA coordinates with state pregnancy disability leave laws.

Quick preview: The amended CFRA regulations include guidance on certain definitions (such as how to determine when businesses will be considered joint employers under CFRA), include changes to the mandatory poster requirement, and change what information employers must include on the certification form they make available to health care providers who are asked to certify leave for serious health conditions.

Coming soon: A complete analysis of the new amendments will follow shortly, so that you can be prepared when the amendments “go live” in July. We will also be hosting a webinar on the subject, which you will not want to miss!

Is California Poised to Be the First State to Outlaw Workplace Bullying? Or Will New York Beat Us to It? 

Following an amendment (AB 2053) to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) that took effect January 1, 2015, California employers that are subject to the mandatory sexual harassment training requirement for supervisors must now include an additional training topic: prevention of “abusive conduct.” Read the text of the bill here.

Readers will recall that existing law (AB 1825, codified at Cal. Gov’t Code § 12950.1) requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide all California supervisory employees with at least two hours of effective interactive training on sexual harassment prevention. New supervisors must be trained within six months of being promoted or hired into a supervisory position and, thereafter, every two years.  The required training must include “information and practical guidance” regarding federal and state laws concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of harassment, and practical examples to instruct the supervisors participating in the training. Now, in addition to the previously required topics, employers must include a segment aimed at the prevention of abusive conduct in the workplace.

What does that mean?
Continue Reading A One-Two Punch: New CFRA Regs and Abusive Conduct Training

By Colleen Regan

New guidance on how to comply with the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is nigh. 

On January 13, 2015, the California Fair Employment & Housing Council approved revised regulations interpreting the CFRA, attached here. Procedurally, the regulations now go to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for additional consideration and eventual

By: Lindsay Fitch

Just when you thought you finally understood employee rights and employer obligations under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), you realize that you are in California, where employee privacy rights loom large and the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) also comes into play.  Although both laws are intended for the same purposes—to provide employees of larger employers with protected time off for various medical conditions and family situations—the CFRA tightens the reins on the information available to the employer.  Of course you want to give your employees what they need, but you also want to make sure the request is legitimate. 

So, as a California employer, what are you entitled to ask your employee about the need for CFRA leave?  Far less than under the FMLA, it turns out.  You can ask: 

        Is the employee qualified?  Under both the FMLA and CFRA, employees are qualified for leave when they have a serious health condition or when they need to care for a family member with a verified serious health condition.  A “serious health condition” is an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves one of the following: 

  •       Hospital care
  •      Absence (incapacity) plus treatment  
  •      Chronic conditions requiring treatment
  •      Permanent/long term conditions requiring supervision
  •      Multiple treatments for certain (non-chronic) conditions
  •      Pregnancy (a serious health condition under FMLA, but not under CFRA) 

        How Should I Know?  I’m Not a Doctor.  Fortunately, you can require a medical certification to verify the serious health condition, which must include some specific information to be sufficient.
Continue Reading Mysterious Leaves of Absence: How Do I Know If An Employee Qualifies For Leave If I Can’t Ask About Their Condition?

Employers usually reserve the right to approve in advance when their employees can schedule requested vacation time.  But can an employer with a garden-variety vacation/PTO policy (i.e., non-union, non-ERISA) ever require employees to use accrued vacation or PTO for an otherwise unpaid absence from work? 

Consider the following commonly occurring scenarios: 

1.  Sally needs to take a leave of absence to care for her ailing father. 

2.  Mike needs to take a leave of absence to deal with his own disabling medical condition. 

3.  Pregnant employee, Marcia, just found out she is ordered to bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. 

4.  Frank announces his plan to retire.  Then his supervisor makes her own announcement: Frank must use his vacation now, before his resignation is effective. 

5.  When the company closes for the last week of the year, all employees must use their vacation or PTO time. 

Remember the Rules:

Contrary to what many employees believe, vacation or PTO is not an entitlement.  It is a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee.  So, the accrual and terms of use can generally be subject to whatever reasonable restrictions and requirements the employer’s policy provides.  The key to validity here is the reasonableness of the restrictions. 

Reasonable restrictions can be things like:

✓     Only full-time employees are eligible for vacation
✓    
No one is eligible to accrue vacation until completing 90 days of employment
✓    
Vacation can be taken in minimum increments of, say, 4 hours or 1 day 
Continue Reading So Vacate Already! — When Can An Employer Force Employees To Take Paid Time Off?