October 4, 2022

California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) Expanded to Include Leave to Care for Nonrelatives

On September 29, 2022, Gov. Gavin Newson expanded the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) by signing Assembly Bill 1041 into law, providing California employees the right to take leave to care for nonrelatives, (described as an employee’s “chosen family” or “extended relatives”).

Under the CFRA, employees of employers with 5 or more employees are entitled to take family and medical leave for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period to care for themselves or a relative as defined by statute. That list of “relatives” previously meant child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner.

New Expansion of CFRA:
AB 1041 expands the list of individuals for which an employee can take leave under the CFRA and the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 to include a “designated person” identified by the employee; that is, “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” The new law also expands the use of paid sick days under the California Sick Leave Law for a “designated person.” While there are currently no specific criteria for naming a “designated person” (who does not need to be designated until taking the leave), employers may limit the employee to one designated person per 12-month period.

The new law takes effect January 1, 2023. For now, there is little guidance, other than the language of the bill itself, regarding the boundaries of who may be a “designated person.” Until further notice, employers should err on the side of caution and apply these new provisions of the CFRA liberally. Further, this new law, along with others that have been implemented over the past year, makes it critical that employers have their employee handbooks and policies reviewed by legal counsel prior to being implemented effective January 1, 2023.

Please reach out with any questions you may have regarding this important development to Monte Grix, mgrix@hkemploymentlaw.com, (415) 835-9016, or Laraya Parnell, lparnell@hkemploymentlaw.com, (310) 255-1829.