(a) The following rules apply to the permissible terms of a CFRA leave, to the extent that they are consistent with the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. ¬§ 1001 et seq. Nothing in these regulations infringes on the employer's obligations, if any, under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) (29 U.S.C. ¬§ 1161 et seq.) or prohibits an employer from granting CFRA leave on terms more favorable to the employee than those listed below.
(b) Paid Leave.
An employer is not required to pay an employee during a CFRA leave except:
(1) An employee may elect to use any accrued vacation time or other paid accrued time off (including undifferentiated paid time off (PTO)), other than accrued sick leave, that the employee is otherwise eligible to take during the otherwise unpaid portion of the CFRA leave.
(2) Only if the employee asks for leave for what would be a CFRA-qualifying event may an employer require the employee to use any accrued vacation time or other paid accrued time off (including PTO time), other than accrued sick leave, that the employee is otherwise eligible to take during the otherwise unpaid portion of the CFRA leave.
(A) If an employee requests to utilize accrued vacation time or other paid accrued time off without reference to a CFRA-qualifying purpose, an employer may not ask whether the employee is taking the time off for a CFRA-qualifying purpose.
1. If the employer denies the employee's request and the employee then provides information that the requested time off is or may be for a CFRA-qualifying purpose, the employer may inquire further into the reasons for the absence. If the absence is CFRA-qualifying, then the rules in section 11092(b)(1) and (2), above, apply.
(3) An employer may require the employee to use, or an employee may elect to use, any accrued sick leave that the employee is otherwise eligible to take during the otherwise unpaid portion of a CFRA leave for:
(A) the employee's own serious health condition, or
(B) any other reason if mutually agreed to between the employer and the employee.
(4) An employer and employee may negotiate for the employee's use of any additional paid or unpaid time off to substitute for the CFRA leave provided by this section.
(c) Provision of Health Benefits.
If the employer provides health benefits under any group health plan, the employer has an obligation to continue providing such benefits during an employee's CFRA leave, FMLA leave, or both. The following rules apply:
(1) The employer shall maintain and pay for the employee's health coverage at the same level and under the same conditions as coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed during the entire leave period.
(2) This obligation commences on the date leave first begins under FMLA (i.e., for pregnancy disability leaves) or under FMLA/CFRA (i.e., for all other family care and medical leaves). The obligation continues for the duration of the leave(s), up to a maximum of 12 workweeks in a 12-month period.
(3) A ?group health plan? is as defined in section 5000(b)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. If the employer's group health plan includes dental care, eye care, mental health counseling, et cetera, or if it includes coverage for the employee's dependents as well as for the employee, the employer shall also continue this coverage.
(4) Although the employer's obligation to continue group health benefits under either FMLA or CFRA, or both, does not exceed 12 workweeks in a 12-month period, nothing shall preclude the employer from maintaining and paying for health care coverage for longer than 12 workweeks.
(5) An employer may recover the premium that the employer paid for maintaining group health care coverage during any unpaid part of the CFRA leave if both of the following conditions occur:
(A) The employee fails to return from leave after the period of leave to which the employee is entitled has expired. An employee is deemed to have failed to return from leave if he/she works less than 30 days after returning from CFRA leave.
(B) The employee's failure to return from leave is for a reason other than the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a serious health condition that entitles the employee to CFRA leave, or other circumstances beyond the control of the employee.
(d) Other Benefits and Seniority Accrual
During the period of CFRA leave, the employee is entitled to accrual of seniority and to participate in health plans for any additional period of leave not covered by (c) above, and also in any employee benefit plans, including life, short-term or long-term disability or accident insurance, pension and retirement plans, and supplemental unemployment benefit plans to the same extent and under the same conditions as would apply to any other leave granted by the employer for any reason other than CFRA leave.
(1) Unpaid CFRA leave for the serious health condition of the employee shall be compared to other unpaid disability leaves whereas unpaid CFRA leaves for all other purposes shall be compared to other unpaid personal leaves offered by the employer.
(2) If the employer's policy allows seniority to accrue when employees are out on paid leave, such as paid sick or vacation leave, then seniority will accrue during any part of a paid CFRA leave.
(3) The employee returning from CFRA leave shall return with no less seniority than the employee had when the leave commenced for purposes of layoff, recall, promotion, job assignment, and seniority-related benefits such as vacation.
(e) Continuation of Other Benefits.
If the employer has no policy, practice or collective bargaining agreement that requires or authorizes any other type of unpaid personal or disability leave or if the employer's other unpaid personal or disability leaves do not allow for the continuation of benefits during these leaves, an employee taking a CFRA leave shall be entitled to continue to participate in the employer's health plans, pension and retirement plans, supplemental unemployment benefit plans or any other health and welfare employee benefit plan, in accordance with the terms of those plans, during the period of the CFRA leave.
(1) As a condition of continued coverage of group medical benefits (beyond the employer's obligation during the 12-week period described above in (c)), life insurance, short- or long-term disability plans or insurance, accident insurance, or other similar health and welfare employee benefit plans during any unpaid portion of the leave, the employer may require the employee to pay premiums at the group rate.
(A) If the employee elects not to pay premiums to continue these benefits, this nonpayment of premiums shall not constitute a break in service for purposes of longevity, seniority under any collective bargaining agreement or any employee benefit plan requiring the payment of premiums.
(2) An employer is not required to make plan payments to any pension and/or retirement plan or to count the leave period for purposes of time accrued under any such plan during any unpaid portion of the CFRA leave. The employer shall allow an employee covered by a pension and/or retirement plan to continue to make contributions, in accordance with the terms of these plans, during the unpaid portion of the leave period.
(f) Employee Status.
The employee shall retain employee status during the period of the CFRA leave. The leave shall not constitute a break in service for purposes of longevity and/or seniority under any collective bargaining agreement or under any employee benefit plan. Benefits must be resumed upon the employee's reinstatement in the same manner and at the same levels as provided when the leave began, without any new qualification period, physical exam, et cetera.
Government Code 12935(a)
Government Code 12945.2
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.
ERISA, 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.
COBRA, 29 U.S.C. 1161 et seq.
(Amended by Register 2013, No. 40.)