California Paid Family Leave Benefits (PFL)
Impact on UC
The following information is provided to assist departments who receive questions from employees. The Paid Family Leave (PFL) Insurance Program provides employees covered by the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program with up to six weeks of paid leave per year to care for parents, children, spouses, and domestic partners or to bond with a new child. This new PFL program is funded entirely by employee contributions through SDI payroll taxes, which were increased as of January 1, 2004 in anticipation of claims which could begin as of July 1, 2004.
Who is covered?
The paid-leave insurance program applies to all employees who are covered by the California State Disability Insurance Program (SDI). As you know, UC is not subject to SDI. New UC employees during their initial period of employment may be eligible for State Paid Family Leave Insurance Program (PFL) benefits based on previous employment where they had contributed to the State Disability Insurance Program (SDI). This run out period is the first 18 months of UC employment. Plus, certain UC employees who work for an employer covered by SDI at the same time they work at UC may also be eligible for PFL based on the concurrent non-UC employment.
What does the program provide?
PFL provides partial income replacement for a maximum of 6 weeks within any 12-month period after a seven day waiting period when the employee is on leave to bond with a new child or provide care for certain seriously ill family members. When women get SDI for pregnancy disability leave, the one-week SDI waiting period is credited to any subsequent baby-bonding. So, women may be able to collect six weeks of SDI during their pregnancy disability and six weeks of PFL immediately after disability ends. Remember SDI is only available to eligible new employees during their first 18 months of UC employment. PFL is taxable and provides 55% of weekly wages, with a minimum of $50/week and a maximum of $728/week in 2004. The maximum benefit increases in 2005.
Does the program provide job protection or return rights?
PFL is a benefit program, provided and administered by the State of California. Unlike the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the similar California Family Rights Act (CFRA), Paid Family Leave does not provide job protection by itself. Under California law, employees may be terminated or replaced when they are absent for PFL, unless they are also eligible for separate protection under other laws or entitlements, such as FMLA or CFRA.
In some situations, newly hired UC employees may be eligible for benefits under Paid Family Leave based on previous employment without yet being eligible for job protection or return rights under FMLA or CFRA. Newly hired UC employees are eligible for FMLA and CFRA only after 12 months of employment with the University and 1250 actual hours worked during this one-year period. However, these same new employees may be eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits based on previous employment before reaching the minimum service time and hours to qualify for FMLA or CFRA. Because they have not met the necessary eligibility requirements, their leave would not be covered by FMLA or CFRA job protection. Departments are encouraged to review applicable University policy and collective bargaining agreements pertaining to family leave and other leaves.
New employees who work for UC 12 months but less than 18 months, who become eligible for FMLA or CFRA in addition to PFL from SDI are required to take PFL at same time as their FMLA or CFRA leave. Accrued paid sick or vacation leave could also be available from the UC employment to cover the FMLA or CFRA leave period.
Are there any recommendations for departments?
Newly hired employees should be provided with information on the Paid Family Leave program, since they may be eligible for leave benefits based on previous employment during the first 18 months of their UC employment.
Information about Paid Family Leave is available on the California Employment Development Department (EDD) website. A copy of the employee pamphlet (DE 2511 I Rev [1-04]) can be downloaded at that site. Consult with your CHR Employee Relations Consultant about leave eligibility issues, or with your CHR Benefits Analyst about University disability benefits issues.
Campus Human Resources, Benefits Services
Phone: (310) 794-0830 | Fax: (310) 794-0835