FAQs – Paid Family Leave (PFL) Eligibility


Who is covered by PFL?
Workers covered by State Disability Insurance (SDI) and have earnings from which SDI deductions were withheld during the base period are also covered by PFL. If a Voluntary Plan insurer provides a company’s disability insurance coverage in lieu of SDI, then it must also provide PFL coverage.

Who is eligible for PFL?
Workers may be eligible for PFL if they suffer a wage loss when they take time off of work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child as long as they meet the basic eligibility requirements.

Am I covered by PFL if I am self-employed?
Yes, but only if you participate in the Disability Insurance Elective Coverage Program.

Am I covered by PFL if I am a government employee?
Some government employees, including public school employees, may be eligible for PFL benefits if the employee pays into the SDI program. Also, if you have wages from a private employer during the base period, you may be eligible even though your primary employer is a government entity.

Am I covered by PFL if I work for a small business?
Yes, if you pay into SDI, you are covered by PFL, regardless of the number of employees in the business. PFL does not protect an employee’s job. Your job may be protected under other laws, such as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), but these laws do not apply to everyone who is eligible for PFL benefits.

May I receive PFL benefits if I work part time?
If you work part time and suffer a wage loss due to family care leave, you may receive benefits provided you are otherwise eligible. You may be eligible for a portion of your PFL benefits if you suffer a loss of wages and meet the other PFL eligibility requirements. For more information, visit Part-time Worker.

Do I have to work a minimum number of hours or days before becoming eligible for PFL benefits?
No, eligibility for PFL benefits is based on the earnings shown in your base period and not a specific number of days or months worked. Wages earned approximately 5 to 18 months before the beginning of a PFL claim are included in the base period.

What constitutes a serious health condition for the purposes of PFL?
A serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition of a patient that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility. This includes any period of incapacity (e.g., inability to work, attend school, or perform other regular daily activities) or any subsequent treatment in connection with such inpatient care; or continuing treatment by a physician or practitioner. Unless complications arise, cosmetic treatments, the common cold, influenza, earaches, upset stomach, minor ulcers, and headaches other than migraine, are examples of conditions that do not meet the definition of a serious health condition for purposes of PFL.

When must I submit a claim to bond with a new child in order to receive six weeks of benefits?
You may be eligible to receive up to six weeks of PFL benefits within the first year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. You must complete and submit a claim form within 49 days of the first day of your bonding leave or you may lose benefits. Claims must be paid in full one day prior to the one year anniversary date of your child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

Am I eligible for PFL benefits if I provide care for a seriously ill family member (child, spouse, parent, or registered domestic partner) that is out-of-state or out-of-the-country?
A claim may be submitted for PFL benefits to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, or registered domestic partner who is out of the state or out of the country. Benefits may be payable provided the medical certificate is properly completed, establishes a need for care, and you are otherwise eligible.

Note: Beginning July 1, 2014, take California workers may be eligible to receive Paid Family Leave benefits when taking take time off of work to care for a seriously ill parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling. For more information, view Senate Bill 770 (Chapter 350, Statutes of 2013).

If I accrue Paid Time Off (PTO), rather than specific vacation or sick leave, can my employer require that I use up to two weeks of PTO prior to the initial receipt of PFL benefits?
Yes, the law provides the option for employers to require up to two weeks of earned but unused vacation leave before receiving PFL benefits. Vacation leave, as defined in Title 22, California Code of Regulations, section 3302-1, includes PTO if vested under Labor Code section 227.3.

I have not accumulated two weeks of vacation leave but have sick leave. Can my employer require me to use sick leave instead?
No, the law does not authorize employers to require the use of sick leave in lieu of vacation.

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