Question:

An employee of mine has been having personal family issues over the last year and it was brought to my attention early this year that she is adopting her nephew. She is on vacation now finalizing court papers in order to adopt her nephew, and thereafter wants to take leave to help the child settle in. What are my obligations with respect to providing my employees with information regarding the new Paid Family Leave law? Is time off for an adoption covered under the law?

Answer:

The California Paid Family Leave (PFL) program begins paying benefits to employees on leave for a covered reason on July 1, 2004.

The law requires you to display the State of California Employment Development Department (EDD) posting, DE 1857a, which provides information on PFL benefits, as well as postings describing unemployment insurance and state disability insurance. In addition, the law requires you to provide employees with a PFL pamphlet, DE 2511, which specifically outlines the PFL program. You are required to give the PFL pamphlet to all new employees hired January 1, 2004 or after, and to all employees who are absent beginning July 1, 2004 or after, if the absence is for a reason that may qualify for PFL benefits.

An eligible employee may receive PFL benefits for a maximum of 6 weeks in a 12-month period to bond with a newborn child, or one placed for adoption or foster care. The baby bonding period must be completed within 12 months after the birth, adoption or placement of the child in order for your employee to collect PFL benefits. The employee may apply for PFL benefits for absences beginning on or after July 1, 2004, and receive up to 6 weeks of benefits, as long as the absences occur within the 12-months after the birth or adoption.

Employees who are absent for a PFL qualifying reason before July 1st may still apply for benefits. The employee will have to serve a 7-day waiting period, so benefits would not be available until after the waiting period. You do not indicate whether or not your workplace is covered by the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, please note that if your company is not covered by the FMLA/CFRA or the employee has exhausted his/her FMLA/CFRA rights, there is no obligation under PFL to grant leave, hold the employee’s job open, or to continue the employee’s health coverage. Depending on the circumstances there may be such obligations under other applicable laws or your own personnel policies.

Employees seeking PFL benefits must apply to the state Employment Development Department, which is responsible for PFL claims and benefits payments. You or the employee may order claim forms from EDD’s website at
http://www.edd.cahwnet.gov/fleclmpfltx.htm.
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