California has many protections for workers who need to take time off -- the hardest part is figuring out how the laws work together in different situations. California workers have protections under several laws to take care of domestic partners, but only if the domestic partnership is registered with the state.

These laws are summarized on this page:

  • CA Family Rights Act
  • CA Pregnancy Disability Leave
  • CA Paid Family Leave
  • Using Sick Time to Care for Family Members ("Kin Care")
  • San Francisco Paid Sick Days
  • Military Family Leave Law
  • State Workers' Pregnancy, Maternity, Paternity, Adoption Leave
  • State Workers' Organ & Bone Marrow Donor Leave


CFRA mirrors the rights and requirements under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), except that it also covers time off to care for a domestic partner (registered with the state). It also does not cover time off for pregnancy and childbirth (which are covered under CA Pregnancy Disability Leave). You can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off in 12 months:

  • to care for a sick parent, child, husband, wife, or domestic partner
  • for a new child (within the 1st year), through adoption, foster care, or birth (unlike FMLA, you can use this time in 2 week segments)
  • for a worker’s own serious health condition

To be eligible:

  • there have to be 50 employees with 75 miles if you work for a private employer (all public employers are covered, no matter the size)
  • you have been employed for 12 months and worked 1,250 months in the past year

Rules for CFRA:

  • You have a right to return to the same, or similar, job.
  • If you are eligible, you can get paid family leave while you are on a CFRA leave.
  • Either you or your boss can decide that you will use accrued time off (but your boss can’t make you use your sick time if your leave is to care for a family member).
  • Your boss has to continue health benefits during the leave, but you can be made to pay back premiums if you don't return to work.
  • You have a right to use time off to care for a new child in smaller amounts of time (federal FMLA says you have to take it all at once).
  • If you use your CFRA leave to care for a domestic partner, you still have rights to 12 weeks off under the federal FMLA for any other situation (since it doesn't cover domestic partners).
  • If you use FMLA for the following situations, you still have rights to 12 weeks of time off for other situations under the state CFRA (since those situations aren't covered)
    • a member of the military is called to service
    • to care for a next of kin who is injured during military service
    • pregnancy and childbirth

The law: CA Family Rights Act Government Code § 12945.2

Enforced by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). FIles a complaint within 1 year.


If there are at least 5 employees at your work, you have a right to 4 months unpaid time off.

  • You can take time off because of:
    • very bad morning sickness
    • pre-natal care
    • doctor-ordered bed rest
    • recovering from childbirth
    • other disabilities related to pregnancy and childbirth
  • You have rights to time off no matter how many hours you have worked or if you are part-time.
  • You can take the leave in small amounts of time, if your doctors says to.
  • check to see if you have rights to some paid benefits under short-term disability.
  • If workers with other short-term disabilities get more than 4 months leave, pregnant workers should, too.
  • If workers are allowed to take more than 4 months off for other kinds of disabilities, women have to be given the same time off for disabilities resulting from pregnancy and childbirth.
  • If you take time off when you are disabled by pregnancy or childbirth, you can still take time off if you are covered by CFRA to bond with the child after you are no longer disabled.
  • You have to give 30 days notice that you will need time off, if you know ahead of time.
  • Employees of non-profit religious organizations are not covered by this law.
  • Your boss can make you, or you can decide to, use any accrued sick time during your time off. You can decide to use any accrued vacation time.
  • You have a right to be transferred to a job with less danger or strain, if possible.
  • Your boss can't make you take a certain amount of time off, without consideration of whether you are actually disabled.
  • You have to tell your boss at least 30 days ahead of time, if possible, that you will need time off. It's best to write a letter, so you have proof.
  • You have a right to go back to your old, or a similar, job.

The law: Fair Employment and Housing Act

Enforced by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). File a complaint within 1 year.


Many workers in California can get benefit pay (equal to part of their regular pay) when they take time off to:

  • bond with a 
newborn, adopted or foster child
  • care for a seriously ill parent (including foster parent or former guardian), child, husband, wife, or domestic partner (registered with the state)

To figure out if you are covered, look for a poster at work and for a deduction on your paystub for State Disability Insurance (SDI).

The rules for CA Paid Family Leave:

  • There is a 7-day waiting period, so you have to be off work for at least 8 days to get benefits.
  • You don't have a right to more time off than you have a right to under the federal FMLA or the state CFRA (if you’re eligible) – it just means you get paid benefits for some time while you’re not working.
  • Paid leave can be taken for up to 6 weeks in 12 months.
  • Leave can be one period of time or if an employee needs to take time off for short periods intermittently.
  • Your boss can make you use up to 2 weeks of paid leave, if you have it, before your Paid Family Leave starts. One of those weeks will count as the waiting period.
  • You apply for benefits directly with the state – it doesn’t go through your employer. (If you are eligible, you will also be filling out paperwork with your boss for federal or state family leave.)
  • A husband and wife (or domestic partners) can’t take Paid Family Leave at the same time, but if one of you is on the state’s disability insurance, the other can take Paid Family Leave.
  • Pregnancy and maternity are not covered by Paid Family Leave -- there's a separate law giving you disability pay for disability resulting from pregnancy or maternity.
  • Paid Family Leave is not taxed by the state.

The law: CA Unemployment Insurance Code § 3300, et seq.


All California workers, public and private, who get sick time care use some of it to care for a sick family member.

  • Each year, you use as much sick time as you accrue in 6 months to care for sick family members.
  • You can use sick time for when the following family members are sick:
    • child (including adopted, foster, and step-child, legal ward, domestic partner’s child, or when standing in for a child’s parent)
    • parent (including adoptive, foster, and step-parents, or legal guardian)
    • husband, wife, or domestic partner
  • You have to follow the boss’ rules for use of sick time.
  • Employers can’t discriminate against workers who use their rights to use sick time.

The law: Cal. Labor Code § 233

Enforced by the CA Labor Commissioner 


All workers in San Francisco, including part-time and temporary, earn 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

  • If you work for an employer with less than 10 employees (including temporary or part-time) in a week, you can accrue (earn) up to 40 hours of paid sick leave. 

  • If you work for an employer with 10 employees (counting employees anywhere) accrue (earn) up to 72 hours of paid sick leave. 

  • You can take the paid sick leave for your own illness or to care for an sick child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, husband, wife, or domestic partner. 

  • Sick days begin to accrue 90 days after the 1st day of work
  • Workers who work less than 56 hours/year in SF are not covered

The law: SF Admin. Code §12W

Enforced by the SF Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.


When your husband, wife, or domestic partner is on leave from active military duty, you can take up to 10 unpaid days off if you:

  • work at any employer (all public and private) with 25 employees
  • are not an independent contractor
  • work an average of at least 20 hours/week
  • tell your boss within 2 business days of getting official notice of the military leave

The law: CA Military and Veterans Code § 395.10


Permanent state workers have a right to up to 1 year of unpaid time off for pregnancy, childbirth, adoption, and to care for a new child. Unlike the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), if a husband and wife or domestic partners work together, they can both take separate leave.

The law: CA Government Code § 19991.6

All state workers have the right to take up to 4 months off when they disabled by pregnancy.

The law: CA Government Code § 12945


State workers who have used all their sick time can take:

  • up to 30 paid days off to donate an organ
  • up to 5 paid days off to donate bone marrow

The law: CA Government Code § 19991.11