Sara Boyns, Workplace Law: How the Paid Family Leave Grant Program works

Peninsula Premier Admin

Q: I am confused about California’s Paid Family Leave program. When do employees take this leave?  What benefits are available? As an employer, do I have to pay employees who are not working when they take paid family leave? Is there any help for small businesses when employees are out on leave?

A: California’s Paid Family Leave provides benefit payments to employees who take approved time off work to care for a seriously ill family member, bond with a new child, or participate in a qualifying event because of a family member’s military deployment. Paid Family Leave is a wage replacement benefit administered by the Employment Development Department. The Paid Family Leave program applies to all California employers regardless of size. Eligible employees may receive benefit payments for up to eight weeks. Paid Family Leave payments are approximately 60-70% of the employee’s weekly wages earned 5 to 18 months before the employee’s claim start date. The Paid Family Leave program is funded entirely by employee contributions. Go to https://edd.ca.gov/disability/paid-family-leave/ for more information about Paid Family Leave eligibility and benefits.

The Paid Family Leave program imposes very few obligations on employers. Unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the California Family Rights Act and California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave regulations, the Paid Family Leave program does not provide job protection. Paid Family Leave does not require employers to grant a leave of absence because it is not a leave law.  However, employees who take Family and Medical Leave Act, California Family Rights Act or Pregnancy Disability Leave leave may apply for Paid Family Leave benefits. An employer may require an employee to take up to two weeks of earned but unused vacation leave before beginning to receive Paid Family Leave benefits. An employer cannot require an employee to use sick leave before receiving benefits. Employers are required to provide the Paid Family Leave brochure only to new employees and people who request leave to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child. Go to https://edd.ca.gov/en/Disability/PFL_Forms_and_Publications for the notice.

In June 2022, California implemented a Paid Family Leave Grant Program. Recognizing that businesses impacted by California’s Paid Family Leave program will have increased costs including training and upskilling existing staff and hiring and training additional staff to cover the duties of employees on leave, the state of California allocated $1 million from the state general fund to provide grants to impacted businesses.

Eligible small businesses in California may now apply for grants up to $2,000 per employee utilizing Paid Family Leave benefits. The grant period is June 1 to May 31, 2024, or until funds run out.

Grants are available in the following amounts:

• Businesses with 51–100 employees may receive up to $1,000 per employee utilizing Paid Family Leave.

• Businesses with one to 50 employees may receive up to $2,000 per employee utilizing Paid Family Leave.

To qualify, businesses must:

• Employ between one and 100 employees;

• Be registered to do business in the state of California;

• Be in an active status with the office of the California secretary of state; and

• Have an active California Employer Account Number under which employees are listed for payroll.

For more information or to apply for a grant, visit  CaliforniaPFL.com, including their frequently asked questions located at https://californiapfl.com/faqs. After reviewing the eligibility requirements, which can be found at https://californiapfl.com/eligibility, and collecting the information needed to apply, it takes businesses approximately 10 to 15 minutes to fill out the online application.

Sara Boyns is a lawyer with Fenton & Keller in Monterey. This column is intended to answer questions of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice. Email queries to email@fentonkeller.com.

Contributed by local news sources

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