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Researching, applying and receiving family leave benefits

Workers have the right to make the most of life's great moments, as well as the responsibility to care for their families in times of trouble. In California, workers are eligible to apply for family leave for up to six weeks out of every 12-month period.

Qualifying events for paid family leave include the arrival or adoption of a new child, as well as the need to care for an immediate family member such as a child, spouse, parent, sibling or grandparent.

Family leave applicants require a medical certificate, including the diagnosis and probable period during which care is needed. A physician must also certify if the condition warrants family leave. New parents or adoptive parents may apply for leave within a year of a child's birth or adoption.

Benefit amounts are calculated by the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program. Family leave benefits are subject to federal income tax, although not to California income tax.

A seven-day waiting period applies to new applicants before benefits may be received. Employers may also require that up to two weeks of vacation time or paid time off (PTO) is used before the benefit period begins.

Workers may not receive paid family leave if they are receiving disability insurance, unemployment insurance or workers' compensation benefits that exceed their weekly benefit amount.

If an application is denied or reduced, you have the right to an appeal before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) or the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Contact a legal advisor if you have been denied coverage under the Family Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act.

Source: State of California Employment Development Department, "Paid Family Leave (PFL)," accessed June 30, 2017

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