Are you taking time off to care for a family member with a serious illness? Are you a new parent on leave to bond with a child? The California Paid Family Leave (PFL) Act allows individuals to take time off from work to care for their families without losing out on wages. The Paid Family Leave Program provides compensation for parents or spouses when they need to miss work due to:
- Taking care of a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, or registered domestic partner;
- Bonding with a new child or the new child of a spouse
- Paid Family Leave is not the same as Disability Insurance. They’re two different programs.
The following are the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) most frequently asked questions about Paid Family Leave benefits:
What do I need to do to apply?
Paid Family leave is a part of the Disability Insurance (DI) program and those covered by DI are also covered by PFL. You must first register for DI, and then you may file a claim for PFL. To file a claim online, visit the EDD’s website. http://www.edd.ca.gov/Forms/. You can also call 1-877- 238-4373 (English) or 1-866-658-8846 (Spanish) to order a form over the phone.
How much money will I receive?
It will depend on your earnings, but it will be approximately 55% of your earned wages. No more than six weeks of PFL benefits may be paid within any 12-month period. For claims beginning on or after January 1, 2012, weekly benefits range from $50 to a maximum of $1,011.
Can I care for a family member who lives outside of the U.S.?
Yes. If you have a family member living outside of the United States who needs to be cared for, this qualifies under the Paid Family Leave Program. You may collect your benefits, and travel outside of the U.S. to care for your family member. In order for you to qualify, you must obtain a medical certificate from a health care provider to establish your family member’s serious health condition, and this health care provider must be licensed or certified in the country where your family member is receiving treatment. You also need to provide the EDD the dates you will be traveling.
As a new mother, can I file for PFL bonding benefits before I file for Disability pregnancy benefits?
No. You must file for Disability benefits first, and then once you are released by your doctor, you may file for PFL benefits.
Can I apply even if I don’t have a legal right to work in the U.S. or a social security number?
Yes. Even if you are an undocumented immigrant, you may be eligible for PFL. As long as you have been working in California and have had State Disability Wages (SDI) withheld from your paycheck, you can collect benefits. Everyone who meets the criteria is encouraged to apply for the program. You do not have to be a U.S. Citizen to be eligible.
Do I get paid for the waiting period week?
No. Anyone who files an initial claim for Paid Family Leave benefits, needs to serve a non-payable 7 day waiting period. New mothers transitioning from a Disability Insurance to PFL claim are not required to serve a 7-day waiting period before receiving PFL benefits.
Does the EDD protect my job if I need to take time off to care for a family member?
No. The EDD encourages you to arrange the time off with your employer before applying for Paid Family Leave benefits. The PFL provides you income replacement while on leave – it does not guarantee job protection during your leave. The EDD does not protect jobs; they only pay benefits to those who qualify. Your job may be protected by the California Family Rights Act or the Family Medical Leave Act, covered by the United States Department of Labor. The Family Medical Leave Act is administered by the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. Their contact number is 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243) in English and Spanish. The California Family Rights Act contact information is (800) 884-1684 for English and Spanish.
My employer told me I qualify for 12 weeks of benefits, why did I only get paid for 6 weeks?
If you have been told by your employer that you qualify for 12 weeks of benefits, your employer is referring to 12 non-payable weeks under the Federal Family Leave Act, which allows you to take time off to care for your loved one, but you will not collect benefits. This is not the same as Paid Family Leave. PFL can only pay up to 6 weeks of benefits to a qualified individual.
Do I have to be married to my partner to care for them?
Yes, the requirement for care on married couples is that they must be legally married. Domestic partnerships are allowed for same gender couples who are registered as domestic partners with the state of California. Different gender couples where one is at least 62 years of age or older and are registered as domestic partners with the state of California also quality. Please visit: www.edd.ca.gov for more information on eligibility and how to apply. Paid Family Leave Representatives can be reached at 1-877-238-4373 with options for English or Spanish. The representatives are available from 8a.m to 5p.m., Monday through Friday, except on state holidays.