Little girl holding newborn baby

Although there are common elements to the many PFL regulations, there are also differences in the way each state designs its plan and coordinates it with other leave types. Here’s what you need to know about PFL and state disability in California.

What is California Paid Family Leave (PFL)?

The California program provides eligible employees paid benefits for leave to:

  • Bond with a new child within 12 months of birth or placement via adoption or foster care
  • Care for a seriously ill family member

A family member includes child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner.

When did CA PFL begin?

California PFL was passed in 2002 and took effect July 1, 2004.

Who is eligible?

Employees working in California must meet the following requirements to qualify for PFL benefits:

  • Earn at least $300 during a 12-month base period, where State Disability Insurance (SDI) deductions were withheld.
  • Be taking leave because they are unable to do regular work due to the need to provide care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a child.
  • Be employed or actively looking for employment at the time paid family leave begins.
  • Submit claim form and medical certificate between the first day of leave and 41 days after the leave begins.

Note: the same eligibility requirements outlined above apply to California's SDI program.

What is the voluntary program option?

Instead of a state-run program, employers may elect to offer a private plan, referred to as a voluntary plan. An employer's voluntary plan must meet the following requirements:

  • Program must fully meet and provide at least one benefit that is better than the state plan.
  • Cannot cost employees more than the state plan.
  • Employers must formally apply for voluntary plan approval with the Employment Development Department (EDD) before implementing the plan.

Lincoln offers a voluntary plan on an Administrative Services Only (ASO) basis. By law, an employer's voluntary plan, known as Voluntary Disability Insurance or VDI, must include SDI and PFL coverage.

How is the program funded?

The California PFL program is funded through the employee's state disability Insurance tax withholding. The 2019 employee contribution rate for SDI is 1.0% of wages up to the 2019 maximum of $118,371. The maximum annual deduction of $1,183.71.

Are PFL benefits taxable?

Family Leave Insurance benefits are subject to federal income tax and to federal rules on reporting income and paying taxes. PFL benefits are not subject to California state income tax. Benefits are reported on a 1099-G tax form.

What are the benefits to the employee?

CA PFL provides up to 6 weeks of partial wage replacement for bonding with a new child or caring for a seriously ill family member every 12 months. Benefits are payable at 60 to 70% of based on an employee's wages. The 2019 weekly maximum benefit is $1,252.

An employee's weekly benefit amount may be estimated using the state's PFL calculator.

There is no waiting period for PFL benefits.

Does California Paid Family Leave provide intermittent leave?

Yes. Employees may take leave on a continuous or intermittent basis.

Does California PFL provide job protection?

CA PFL does not provide job protection. Employees may be eligible for job protection if their leave also qualifies for leave under other laws such as FMLA, the California Family Rights Act, or the New Parent Leave Act.

How can I get more information and access forms from California state?

Go to CA PFL forms for key forms and notices regarding CA PFL plan administration, or call (877) 238-4373 with questions.

Other California state paid leave resources:
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