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California Senate Bill 1123, which expands the California Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, was signed into law on September 27, 2018, and will take effect on January 1, 2021. The amendment expands the scope of the California PFL program to allow an employee to receive benefits for leave taken for a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of the employee’s family member in the U.S. Armed Forces.

For the purpose of the new leave reason, a family member is defined as a spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent. A qualifying exigency means any of the following, when related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of the family member:

  • Activities taken within 7 calendar days from the date that a family member has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces to address any issue that arises from the call or order.
  • Attendance at an official ceremony, program, or event, or attendance at a family support or assistance program and informational briefing sponsored or promoted by the military, military service organizations, or the American Red Cross.
  • Any of the following activities related to a child:
    • Arranging for or providing childcare.
    • Enrolling or transferring a child to a new school or daycare facility.
    • Attending meetings with staff at a child’s school or daycare facility.
  • Making or updating financial or legal arrangements to address the family member’s absence.
  • Acting as the family member’s representative before a federal, state, or local agency for purposes of obtaining, arranging, or appealing military service benefits.
  • Attending counseling provided by someone other than a health care provider, for oneself, for the family member in the U.S. Armed Forces, or for the family member’s child.
  • Accompanying a family member in the U.S. Armed Forces while that individual is on short-term, temporary, rest and recuperation leave during the period of deployment in a foreign country.
  • Attending arrival ceremonies, reintegration briefings and events, and any other official ceremony or program sponsored by the military for a period of 90 days after the termination of the active duty.
  • Addressing issues that arise from the death of the family member in the U.S. Armed Forces while on covered active duty status, including meeting and recovering the family member’s body, making funeral arrangements, and attending funeral services.
  • Any of the following activities related to the parent of the family member in the U.S. Armed Forces while the family member’s parent is incapable of self-care by requiring active assistance or supervision over daily self-care in 3 or more of the activities of daily living or instrument activities of daily living:
    • Arranging for or providing care.
    • Admitting or transferring the parent to a care facility.
    • Attending meetings with staff at the parent’s care facility, including, but not limited to, meetings with hospice or social service providers of the parent.
  • Any other activities to address other events that arise out of the active duty of the family member in the U.S. Armed Forces, if the employer and employee agree that this leave qualifies as an exigency and agree to both the timing and duration of this leave.

Certification: The Employment Development Department (or Voluntary Plan administrator) can require the employee to provide a copy of the covered active duty orders and/or other documentation issued by the military that includes, as applicable:

  • Certification that the employee’s family member is in the U.S. Armed Forces, is on covered active duty or called to covered active duty, and the dates of the covered active duty service.
  • Start and end dates of the requested leave period.
  • Description of the qualifying exigency.
  • Third party contact information, if the qualifying exigency involves meeting with a third party.
  • Rest and recuperation documentation that indicates that this person has been granted rest and recuperation leave.

What Employers Must Do Now:

California employers are responsible for compliance with this law as of January 1, 2021. Employers should:

  • Update any employee handbooks regarding military exigency and California Paid Family Leave.
  • Train appropriate personnel (Human Resources, Benefits, supervisors, managers, etc.) on the law’s requirements and an employee’s right to use California Paid Family leave.

What ReedGroup Is Doing:

  • ReedGroup will update its platforms for Voluntary Plan administration in California to include the new leave reason, including updating its documentation and certification forms, in time for the January 1, 2021 change effective date.

Lori Welty

Lori Welty

Lori Welty, Esq., Senior Compliance Counsel at ReedGroup. Ms. Welty provides expertise in all areas of state and federal leave law, including Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and their state law equivalents as well as disability and family leave benefits. Ms. Welty is an ongoing author of ReedGroup’s LeaveAdvisor online reference tool, as well as many other white papers and articles.

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