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According to a recent study, San Francisco and Fremont are the fourth- and sixth-best cities for working parents in the US. These Bay Area locales have more than just nice weather and high wages. They also offer a suite of other benefits and protections that make raising children while working full-time easier. 

But what makes a place a good option for parents? There are a lot of factors involved. According to CoworkingCafe, which performed the review, it considered details ranging from working conditions to education opportunities to health and environmental concerns. The study even left out certain critical features, such as protections for workers with families, that might have elevated Fremont and San Francisco even higher. Let’s break down what the study looked at, what it left out, and what you can do to make the most of these features. 

What Makes Cities Parent-Friendly?

There’s a lot to consider regarding parent-friendly locations. The CoworkingCafe study rated cities based on three categories:

  • Education (40%): How affordable is childcare? How well do public schools rank? How available is public education?
  • Work (40%): How many people work remotely or in remote-eligible roles?
  • Health & Environment (20%): How many pediatricians are there? How much green space is there? What is the air quality like?

While these are valuable tools, the study prioritizes remote work and coworking solutions over other working conditions due to its source. Other factors that should be considered when determining a city’s true friendliness toward working parents include:

  • Cost of living: How affordable is an area to live in? How much does housing and transport cost?
  • Minimum and median wages: How much can parents expect to earn to support their families?
  • Parental and family leave policies: If a worker wants to start or expand their family, will they be able to take time off?
  • Paid leave opportunities: Can a new parent take time off to bond with their child without sacrificing their financial stability?
  • General worker protections: If an employee is forced to leave their job due to discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination, what options do they have?

Considering these factors alongside the CoworkingCafe review may lead to a much more well-rounded understanding of what makes a city good for parents. 

Why San Francisco and Fremont Are Working Parents’ Paradise

Whether you consider the nationwide review on its own or add the extra factors listed above, the Bay Area looks like an excellent option for parents. 

Fremont is the number six city for working parents nationally because of its excellent environment and comparatively low childcare expenses. Meanwhile, San Francisco is named the number four city nationwide because of its large share of remote-eligible jobs, which signifies that workers have substantial flexibility in where they work. That flexibility is often indicative of positive work environments. It also has great air quality and excellent medical infrastructure. 

The report leaves out the sheer number of protections offered to working parents in California. Among the most valuable state initiatives to support families are:

  • Paid Family Leave (PFL): Eligible workers can receive PFL assistance worth up to 70% of their average income for eight weeks while welcoming new children to the family. 
  • School-related leave: Workers can take up to 40 hours a year off work to manage issues related to their children’s schooling or daycare, including attending open houses, parent-teacher conferences, and more. 
  • Medical and pregnancy leave: The state has some of the best protected leave policies in the country. Employees may take protected time off to ensure a healthy pregnancy or care for sick children. 
  • CFRA coverage: Compared to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) extends protected leave to a much larger portion of the working population. 

These policies apply statewide, giving workers greater options to care for their children. San Francisco still edges ahead of Fremont, though, due to two critical city laws:

  • Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO): Employees covered by the FFWO may request flexible or predictable work schedules to simplify caregiving responsibilities toward their children. Additionally, employers may not retaliate against workers who request these schedules. 
  • Paid Parental Leave Ordinance: Employers are required to supplement the income of workers who are currently receiving state PFL assistance to equal 100% of their normal income. 

These policies make San Francisco indisputably one of the best places for working parents nationwide. 

Make the Most of Your Rights as a Working Parent in California

There’s no doubt that California laws make working full-time easier for parents. However, these policies only help you if you know your rights. Employers may still attempt to discriminate and retaliate against workers requesting protected leave and accommodations despite the law. This may look like:

  • Refusing to grant protected leave without providing a reason
  • Threatening to fire you for asking or taking protected leave
  • Terminating your employment during leave
  • Cutting your hours, pay, or responsibilities before or after taking time off
  • Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations while you’re pregnant

If you have experienced any of these problems, you likely have the right to take legal action. You may be able to hold your employer accountable for violating your rights under state and municipal law and pursue compensation for your losses.At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, we’re dedicated to protecting employees from rights violations like these. We are prepared to advocate for you in court or at the negotiation table to help you achieve fair compensation for a lost job, pay, or refused accommodations. Schedule your free consultation with our Bay Area employment law firm to learn how we can protect your rights as a working parent in California.

San Diego’s Mayor Todd Gloria has officially signed a new bill into law doubling leave benefits for city employees. The law increases the paid parental leave workers receive from 160 hours to 320 hours, or eight total weeks of full-time work. As such, eligible city employees can take time off to welcome a new child to the family without risking their finances. 

The bill also has several other benefits for employees. It eliminates the 30-day waiting period for pregnancy-related disability benefits, so workers do not need to go a month without financial support due to a difficult pregnancy. Finally, it slashes the eligibility requirement for pregnancy benefits from one year of employment to just 30 days. As a result, people do not have to put off their plans for parenthood for the risk of losing income.

These changes make the city a significantly more appealing employer. They encourage younger workers and marginalized demographics to begin careers within the city by ensuring they can still start and support their families despite the high cost of living. They also provide invaluable support for women, who are more likely to exit the workforce to care for new children if their employer does not offer benefits. 

However, it is important to note that benefits for city employees are very different from protected leave. While Mayor Gloria’s bill is an excellent step forward, it is not the same kind of leave guaranteed by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Here’s how these types of policies differ and how they may impact your plans. 

The Differences Between Employer and Governmental Leave

The CFRA and FMLA are government programs guaranteeing workers the right to a certain amount of time off for qualifying events. Under the CFRA, covered employers must grant qualifying employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain events. Covered employers include all companies with five or more workers and all public and government institutions, regardless of size. 

Qualifying employees are those who have worked for an employer for at least 12 months and have performed 1250 hours of work for that employer in the last year. These workers may take unpaid leave to care for a designated person, recover from a significant medical event or condition, or welcome a new child into the family. 

Critically, CFRA and FMLA compliance is not optional. Employers cannot fire someone for requesting or taking protected time off. They cannot retaliate against them, either. When the employee returns, they must be given their previous job back, including their former hours, responsibilities, location, and title. 

This is very different from employer-offered paid-leave plans. Employers can offer whatever type of leave they want. However, this time is not protected, nor is it guaranteed. Every organization can set its requirements and criteria for time off, so you may not be eligible for your employer’s program. Furthermore, organizations do not need to return workers to their previous positions if they take unprotected time off. This is true of private and government employers alike. As such, paid parental leave programs are not always as secure as unpaid, protected alternatives. 

Can Your Employer Change Your Leave Benefits?

While Mayor Gloria’s change to employee benefits is positive, it raises an important question. When and how can your employer change benefits like paid leave? Employers generally have the right to change the fringe benefits they offer, such as paid time off (PTO) and leave, whenever they want. However, there are some exceptions. 

First, if paid parental leave is explicitly part of your employment contract, your employer cannot rescind it without your permission. However, matters become more complex if your contract lumps this time off into “other benefits as provided” or states that it may be subject to change. 

Second, if you work for an organization subject to a collective bargaining agreement, your employer may not be permitted to change your benefits. This agreement is just as binding as your employment contract. 

Third, if you work for a government, such as the city of San Diego, local laws may provide more guarantees about your PTO. Changing a law is significantly more complex than altering a private organization’s policies. As such, your benefits are less likely to change for the worse.

When Do Leave Changes Violate Your Rights?

Your employer may be able to alter your benefits, but certain changes violate your rights. Unlawful actions include:

  • Cutting your benefits to lower than local, state, or federal minimums
  • Setting policies that bar you from taking protected leave
  • Revoking paid time off without paying you the equivalent amount
  • Retaliating against you for requesting CFRA or FMLA time

If you experience any of these changes, your employer is violating your rights. This is true whether you work for a public or private organization. You can take a stand to ensure you receive the benefits and time off you are guaranteed under the law. 

Talk to Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP

Cities around California are beginning to implement laws like San Diego’s, guaranteeing workers paid time off to care for new children. If you live in one of these cities, you may be owed up to eight weeks’ paid leave when welcoming your child into the world. If you are not granted this time, your employer may be violating your rights. If you believe your employer has violated your right to time off, you can get help. At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, we specialize in protecting California workers’ employee rights. You can schedule your free consultation today to discuss your situation and learn more about your rights under state and local law. Our California employment lawyers are available to help you hold your employer accountable for providing you with the paid or unpaid leave you’re owed.

California has spent years expanding workers’ rights statewide. While many of the recent changes rightfully receive the spotlight, this can push older but just as important regulations from the public eye. For example, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act is one of the state’s fundamental workers’ rights laws but has rarely received focused attention since it was enacted in 2015. 

This Act is responsible for guaranteeing many California employees paid sick leave. It is one of the broadest paid leave mandates in the nation. Here’s what you should understand about the Act, how it applies to you, and what to do if your employer unjustly tries to deny you leave.

What Is the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act?

The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families (HWHF) Act is a California law first passed in 2014 requiring all employers, regardless of size, to offer their employees a minimum amount of paid sick leave (PSL) annually. The law was first implemented to give workers guaranteed time to care for themselves or their families each year without sacrificing pay. 

PSL is different from time taken under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or due to workers’ compensation. FMLA leave is unpaid unless the recipient qualifies for Paid Parental Leave. Meanwhile, workers’ compensation allows you to receive disability benefits but not pay on your normal paycheck. Additionally, PSL differs from paid vacation days unless it is included in a broader PTO policy meeting certain requirements. 

Your Rights Under the HWHF Act

Under the HWHF Act, employers must offer their employees either 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave per year, whichever is greater. While this is the minimum required under law, employers may offer more. 

You are eligible for PSL in California if you have worked for the same employer for at least 30 days in the past year in California. No employers are exempt from this requirement to offer PSL. You must be offered PSL whether you are part-time, full-time, temporary, or salaried. 

When possible, you must provide your employer with “reasonable” notice to request PSL. For example, if you know about a doctor’s appointment in advance, you should give your employer several days of notice. 

If your employer requires you to work an alternative schedule, meaning something other than a regular eight-hour shift, they are still required to give you the equivalent of three days of paid leave. For example, if you routinely work 12-hour shifts three days a week, your employer must grant you at least 36 hours of time total. 

This leave can be used to recover if you are sick, to attend medical appointments, or to care for a sick family member. Time taken under the HWHF Act is protected, so it may not be used to make adverse employment decisions about workers. For instance, your employer cannot fire, demote, refuse to promote, cut hours, or reduce your working conditions because you take PSL. Additionally, if your employer has an absence policy, the first three days or 24 hours of PSL you take in a given year may not count toward absence-based penalties.

Your employer can choose from several ways to offer you PSL, including:

  • Statutory Mandated Accrual: Your employer can award you one hour of paid sick leave per 30 hours worked, including overtime, beginning the day you begin work. This must continue to accrue up to 24 hours total in a year. Employers may but do not need to cap paid time off at 24 hours. Accrued time must roll over to the next year if it is not taken. However, employers may also restrict the total amount of leave that rolls over to 48 hours or six days.
  • Optional Accrual: Businesses may use other accrual methods to calculate PSL as long as these methods lead to regular time accrual and ensure employees have accrued at least 24 hours of sick leave by the 120th calendar day of the year. This must also permit unused hours to roll over.
  • Lump-Sum: Companies may offer workers “lump-sum” PSL, providing all workers with a set amount of sick leave at the start of the year. These lump-sum policies do not need to permit hours to roll over to the next year. 

Any of these programs can also be combined with other forms of PTO as long as they permit workers to take the requisite time off for health needs. 

Can Your Employer Deny You Sick Leave?

Your employer must grant you PSL upon your written or verbal request. More importantly, your employer should not demand a doctor’s note for the first three days or 24 hours of sick time you request in a year. It may not ask for further details about your health or that of your family, either. In other words, if you are eligible for PSL, your employer cannot deny you the time you have accrued, with limited exceptions. 

First, your employer does not need to permit you to take more than your total accrued paid time off per year. If you need additional time to recover, attend medical appointments, or care for sick family, you may request unpaid FMLA time instead. 

Additionally, companies may prevent workers from taking paid sick leave in the first 90 days of their employment. If your employer has this policy, you are not eligible to request or receive PSL until the 91st calendar day of your employment. Any sick leave you need during this time is not protected. 

Outside these two scenarios, your employer must grant you PSL upon request, up to what you have accrued. If you are denied this leave or face retaliation for taking time off to care for yourself or your family, you can take legal action. If you believe you have been illegally denied PSL or suffered retaliation from your employer for taking it, you should contact the skilled attorneys at the San Francisco employment law firm Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP. Our team has years of experience representing employees who have experienced illegal rights violations in California. Learn more about how we can assist you by scheduling your consultation today.

Before parenthood, you most likely had plenty of time to devote to your career. While it may not always be convenient, you can usually take on extra work responsibilities, do overtime, and generally put your work first. Your partner, family, and friends understand if you must stay late at work or miss an event. It’s just part of being a good employee, supposedly. 

Having a child changes that. Suddenly, your job can no longer be your top priority. Your kids need your time, attention, and energy more than your employer ever could. However, you still need to maintain your career to give your children the life they deserve. You need to find a new work-life balance.

Every family’s circumstances are different, so there’s no single answer as to the “right” type of work-life balance for a new parent. Instead, it’s up to you to understand your rights so you’re prepared to make the changes that work for you. If you’re expecting a new child, now is the time to learn about your rights under California law to care for your family while maintaining your career. 

The Many Demands of Being a Working Parent

Becoming a working parent will likely cause you to change your approach to work out of necessity. A few of the many new demands that you may face because of parenthood include:

  • Pregnant people may need time off during and after their pregnancies to ensure healthy delivery and recovery from labor.
  • After returning to work, lactating people may need time to pump milk. 
  • Both parents may want to take time off to care for a brand-new child. 
  • Children can get sick, so parents may need more time off work to care for them.
  • Parents must enroll children in school or daycare, so they may need time to visit open-house days.
  • Similarly, parents may need to leave work to pick up their kids if an emergency happens at school.

In short, parenthood means you are more likely to take time away from work to care for your kids. However, you still have obligations to your job. The biggest demand on a parent who maintains their career is finding ways to balance these competing needs healthily. 

Making the Most of California’s Legal Protections for Working Parents

Despite these new demands, you may feel uncomfortable taking time off work to care for your family. Many new parents fear that this could hurt their careers. 

It’s not unreasonable to worry about this. Some employers do resent giving their employees the time they need to start or care for their families. However, California laws specifically protect your right to become a working parent, whether adopting, fostering, or having a biological child. Here’s what you need to know about your rights as a parent in the workplace in California.

Pregnancy Protections

Both state and federal law provide specific protections for pregnant people in the workforce. This comes in two forms:

  • Pregnancy disability leave: Being pregnant was not initially considered a disability for workers to receive protected time off. However, California has implemented regulations requiring employers to provide up to four months of protected leave to people who cannot safely work while carrying a healthy pregnancy to term. 
  • Accommodations for pregnant workers: Pregnant people who find their ability to work is limited because of their condition can request reasonable accommodations from their employer, such as altered work hours, altered duties, chairs for jobs normally performed standing, and more. 

Parental Leave

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), parents of all genders are eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave during the first year after welcoming a new child into their family. In California, parents can take this leave simultaneously or consecutively. 

Additionally, California offers a Paid Parental Leave (PPL) program that offers new parents up to 70% of their average wages for up to eight weeks if they are eligible for unpaid leave. In 2025, this will rise to 90% of the average salary for low-income parents.

CFRA and FMLA Leave

These programs permit more than just parental leave. If your child gets sick and requires dedicated help, you can request FMLA or CFRA leave to care for them. You can take up to 12 weeks of leave from your covered employer per 12-month period to care for an ill child with the guarantee that your job will be waiting for you when you return.

School Leave

Parents with school-age children can take up to eight hours a month and 40 hours a year to handle tasks related to their kids’ enrollment in school or daycare. This includes picking up children due to school emergencies, participating in school events, and attending open houses to find a new school.

Freedom From Discrimination

While discrimination against parents is not specifically illegal in California, current regulations make many potential types of discrimination unlawful. For example, it is against the law to discriminate against a worker for taking any form of leave mentioned above. Additionally, it may be considered unlawful gender discrimination if an employer terminates or refuses to promote a woman because she has or intends to have children.

Feel Safe Reclaiming Your Work-Life Balance as a Parent

There are few places in the U.S. where being a working parent is easier than in California. If you are expecting a child, you can trust that state laws protect your right to take the time you need to care for them. If your employer does violate your rights, you can hold them accountable for their actions. The first step is to talk to the expert California employment lawyers at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP. We have decades of experience representing employees who have had their rights violated at work. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you file a parental leave discrimination claim.

Children are a full-time responsibility, which can be a problem if you’re also a full-time employee. Working parents need to balance the need to care for their children with their duties at their jobs. 

But what happens when these needs conflict? What if you must pick up your child from daycare early for illness or participate in a school event? Unscrupulous or uncaring employers may threaten your employment for participating in parenthood’s routine demands.

Luckily, if you live in California, you may have the right to take time off for these situations. Here’s how California protects parents who need school-activities leave and how to request it. 

California School-Activities Leave Laws

According to California Labor Code Section 230.8, covered employees are eligible for up to 40 hours of time off per year for activities specifically related to school or licensed childcare providers. This unique form of parental leave may be used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Participating in activities at the school or licensed daycare. This includes volunteering at the facility, attending parent-teacher conferences, and participating in field trips.  
  • Enrolling or re-enrolling children at a facility. Anything a parent must do to ensure their kids become or remain enrolled in school or childcare is covered under this leave, including attending open houses to find a new facility.
  • Addressing emergencies. If an emergency occurs, such as the child needs to be picked up, a behavioral meeting is requested, or a health problem arises, employees have the right to take time off to address the issue.

The law is not restricted to legal parents, either. Section 230.8 treats the following people as parents who are eligible:

  • Biological and adoptive parents
  • Foster parents
  • Stepparents
  • Legal guardians
  • Grandparents
  • Anyone standing in loco parentis over a child

In other words, if you are directly responsible for caring for a child, you likely have the right to this time off under state law. Furthermore, covered employers may not retaliate against you in any way for requesting school-related parental leave.

Restrictions on School-Related Leave

Unfortunately, not every employee is covered under Section 230.8. The law only applies to employers with 25 or more employees. Furthermore, only workers with children in school between kindergarten and grade 12 are eligible. If your child is too young for kindergarten or you work for a small business, you may not be eligible to take time off. 

Furthermore, employees must provide their employer with reasonable notice before taking this type of leave. While employers may not deny the request, they may request proof that the time was dedicated to school- or daycare-related activities, such as a letter from the facility. Furthermore, except for emergencies, employees may only take up to eight hours of time off per month under this law.

You should also note that California childcare leave only accounts for needs directly related to the child’s education or daycare. It does not account for caring for kids who must stay home for the day because they’re sick, unless facility policy prevents them from attending. A parent may use sick leave or vacation time instead in that case. 

Finally, school-activities leave is not necessarily paid. Employers may require workers to use vacation, personal, and other non-sick leave before granting additional time. Employees may also choose to use any unpaid time off their employer provides. 

How to Request Daycare Leave at Work

If you need to handle responsibilities for your child’s school or daycare, in most cases, you must give your employer advance notice. Here’s how to request time off correctly to reduce the risk of your employer illegally denying you the time you’re due:

  • Keep track of the time you’ve already taken off for school activities. While you can take up to eight hours off in one month for childcare needs outside of emergencies, the total amount of protected time per calendar year is limited to 40 hours. Additionally, you can only take eight total hours per year for enrollment needs. Keep track of the time you’ve taken to ensure you remain under your limit. 
  • Determine if the reason you’ll be gone is covered under Section 230.8. Only activities specifically related to school or daycares are covered. Planned holidays, early closures, and children’s illnesses that prevent them from attending do not count, but snow days or a child’s unexpected illness do. Suppose your request is not covered under Section 230.8. In that case, you may be able to request leave under California’s Healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act, which allows you to take up to three paid days off per year to care for yourself or your family.
  • Provide reasonable notice if possible. If an issue is not an emergency, notify your employer as early as possible. What is considered “reasonable” varies based on the circumstances. For example, you cannot reasonably tell your employer you must leave for a behavioral conference before the conference is scheduled. If an emergency arises and you must leave immediately, inform your employer as soon as possible.
  • Prepare documentation proving the reason for your leave. Documentation may include itineraries for field trips, tickets for open houses, notes from the school or daycare (ideally on branded letterhead), or other communications that demonstrate you had a valid reason for taking time away. However, you do not need to reveal specific details regarding your child’s health or behavior.

If you provide this information, covered employers may not deny your request for leave or retaliate against you for taking the time.

Consult Expert Employment Law Attorneys About Denied School Leave

Some employers disregard laws regarding protected leave. If your employer must provide school-activities leave and denies your request or penalizes you for taking time off, you have legal options. The first step is to consult with the skilled lawyers at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP. Our Bay Area employment law attorneys understand the complexities of California’s many protections for working parents. We will help you determine if you have a claim and help you pursue justice and compensation for your employer’s rights violations. Schedule your consultation today to learn more.

While adoption is not the most common way of starting a family, it’s incredibly important. It benefits both prospective parents and the children who may otherwise grow up in the foster care system. Still, because it is less common, there is less social awareness of the needs and struggles new adoptive parents may face.

This is particularly noticeable in the workplace, where new parents may already struggle. Frequently, California adoptive parents experience harsher expectations and less sympathy from their employers than colleagues who welcome biological children. This can make it more difficult for your family to settle into your new life, particularly if you are refused time off to bond with your child. 

If you are considering or in the middle of the adoption process, you should be aware of parents’ rights in California. The state specifically references adoption in the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), which dictates how employers must treat new parents.

Do Adoptive Parents Have Different Rights in California?

In short, no. Once you have legally adopted a child, that child is treated as if they were biologically yours. After finalizing an adoption, you have all the rights and responsibilities as you would for a biological child. 

The same is not true of foster families. Fostering children is just as important, but fosters do not always receive the same rights as adoptive or biological parents. The child’s legal parents and the state retain rights and responsibilities for them unless and until they are adopted.

One of the crucial points where the rights of foster, adoptive, and biological parents overlap is at work. Under California law, welcoming a new child into your family in any of these situations is grounds for taking parental leave, taking time off to care for a sick kid, or otherwise prioritizing your responsibilities as a parent. 

California Parents’ Rights in the Workplace

California has a number of laws protecting parents’ rights to fair employment and time off to bond and care for their kids. These include:

  • Freedom From Discrimination: While parenthood is not a protected class, medical needs and requests for covered time off are considered protected in California. No employer may discriminate, terminate, or retaliate against a prospective parent for requesting family leave.
  • Parental Leave: The CFRA requires employers to give eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after welcoming a new foster child, adoptive child, or infant to their family. 
  • Paid Family Leave (PFL): If a parent is eligible for unpaid parental leave, they are likely also eligible for PFL. The program compensates workers up to 70% of their average salary for up to eight weeks of bonding leave with any new child. 
  • Childcare Time Off: Employers with at least 25 employees must grant parents and fosters are up to 40 hours a year or eight hours a month of time off to “participate in school and licensed day-care activities” with reasonable notice and after using other sources of leave first. 

There are a few points where adoption does not grant the same rights to workers as giving birth. These include:

  • Leave for pregnancy: The state grants pregnant people the option to take disability leave separately from their child bonding leave if necessary for their health. California adoptive parents do not receive this, since they are not bearing the child themselves.
  • Schedule alterations: Pregnant people have the right to request schedule adjustments and other accommodations to ensure they remain healthy during their pregnancy. 
  • Accommodations for nursing: Similarly, adoptive parents rarely receive nursing accommodations unless they are nursing another child. 

Eligibility for Parental Leave

Not every new parent is eligible for parental leave, unfortunately. The CFRA only applies to public organizations or companies with at least five employees. If you are self-employed or work for a particularly small company, your employer is not obligated to provide you leave or protect your position while you’re out. 

Additionally, even employees at covered businesses must meet two eligibility criteria:

  • You must have worked for your employer for at least twelve months
  • During that time, you must have worked at least 1250 hours for your employer

This is still better than federal FMLA leave. CFRA leave does not have exemptions for critical employees and applies to significantly more employers and employees statewide. 

Do You Need to Inform Your Employer About Adoption?

Some prospective parents are hesitant to inform their employers that they will be adopting. Since parents are not a protected class, they may fear that their employer could fire them. They may just worry that their manager will assume they will be less dedicated to the job as a parent. However, concealing your attempt to adopt a child may be unwise, and may not even be possible. 

For instance, most adoptions require the prospective parents to provide a letter from their employers to prove they have ongoing income and are in good standing. To receive this, you’ll need to tell your employer about your plans.

Furthermore, if your employer is not aware that you are adopting, they do not have to grant you time off. It is better to tell them in advance so they can plan for your eventual time off. If they do retaliate against you for requesting protected leave, you can take legal action to hold them accountable for your losses.

Standing Up for Parental Workplace Rights in California

Adopting a child is a stressful process. The last thing you should have to do once the adoption is finalized is to stand up to employment family responsibilities discrimination alone. At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, we can help. We have decades of experience protecting parents’ rights in the workplace and ensuring they receive the leave they’re owed. Learn more about how we can assist you with denied bonding leave requests by scheduling your free consultation.

Parents in California are covered by some of the most comprehensive parental leave laws in the U.S. However, while these laws are better than they are in many states, they still leave a lot to be desired. 

For example, private employers are not required to provide workers with paid parental leave. Instead, eligible workers must request unpaid parental leave from their employer, then request Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits from the California State Disability Insurance fund. These benefits last eight weeks and only cover up to 70% of the employee’s average weekly pay. While this is significantly better than a completely unpaid parental leave, it can still leave many new families struggling to pay bills.

Some California municipalities have taken steps to rectify the problem, though. For example, the city of San Francisco has implemented a law known as the Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO) to supplement workers’ finances during the earliest days of welcoming a new child into the family. 

PPLO is invaluable for eligible workers but is not a guaranteed benefit. If you are preparing to welcome a new child into your family and regularly work in San Francisco, you should understand how SF PPLO works and how to make the most of this unique benefit. 

What Is San Francisco’s Paid Parental Leave Ordinance?

The Paid Parental Leave Ordinance is a law that requires employers to provide “supplemental compensation” to eligible workers who are on parental leave. The law intends to ensure that employees receive the equivalent of their full salary while they are on paid leave. SF PPLO payments for eligible employees are paid after PFL benefits are granted and calculated using the awarded benefits. 

PFL benefits range from 60-70% of an employee’s weekly salary, currently capped at $1620 weekly. For example, if you earn $2000 per week before tax, you would receive $1200 per week in PFL benefits upon successfully applying. If you are also eligible for PPLO, your employer would be expected to pay you an additional $800 per week to make up the funds you otherwise would not receive. 

This is particularly valuable for families in and around San Francisco, which has one of the highest cost of living indexes in the country. In a city where renting a two-bedroom apartment costs an average of $4300 a month and the median home value is $1,195,700, every dollar counts. New parents eligible for SF PPLO can use the benefit to ensure that starting a family doesn’t force them to move away. 

PFL vs. PPLO: Eligibility and Benefits

The eligibility requirements for PFL and PPLO are similar but not the same. Here’s how the two benefits programs compare:

Employment LocationAll of CaliforniaWorkers who work at least 8 hours a week and 40% or more of their total hours for the employer in San Francisco 
ConditionsApplicants must be employed or looking for work and unable to perform their normal duties because they have welcomed a new baby, adopted child, or foster child into their family in the past year. Typically, if a person is eligible for unpaid CFRA leave due to a new child, they are also eligible for PFL.Workers must currently be employed and receiving PFL benefits.
Amount Paid60-70% of an employee’s average earnings during a 13-month “base period” from 18 to 5 months before the leave begins, capped at $1620 weekly in 2023.An employee’s average weekly salary minus PFL benefits, capped at $1080 per week to reach $2700 total.
Employer Eligibility5 or more employees 20 or more employees internationally
Weekly HoursAmy amountAt least 8 hours a week
Employment Duration26 consecutive weeks of employment for workers who work 20 hours a week or more, or 175 days if they work fewer than 20 hours a week180 days
Length8 weeks8 weeks

What to Do If Your Employer Denies PPLO

If you work in San Francisco, you may be relying on PPLO to cover some of your bills after welcoming a new child. That can make a denial from your employer particularly painful. However, suppose you meet the eligibility requirements listed above. In that case, your employer must pay you PPLO, regardless of where they are headquartered or whether you’re taking FMLA leave. The only exception is if it already has another paid leave program that compensates you equally. Failing to pay you appropriately, or retaliating against you for requesting PPLO, may give you the right to take legal action. 

According to municipal law, the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) is usually responsible for investigating and prosecuting PPLO denials. However, if the OLSE and City Attorney does not take legal action within 90 days of receiving written notice of a complaint, you may file a civil claim against your employer directly. You can use this claim to pursue up to treble the supplemental compensation you did not receive, as well as attorneys fees and legal costs. 

Of course, when you’re busy adjusting to life as a new parent, the last thing you want to do is to fight a legal battle alone. With Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP on your side, you don’t have to. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of workers with families around California. Our experienced attorneys understand the importance of receiving fair supplemental compensation during parental time off in San Francisco. If your employer denies your PPLO claim, we can help. Learn more about how we can assist you with an unpaid PPLO claim by scheduling your consultation with our parental leave attorneys today.

California has some of the country’s strongest laws regarding parental leave. However, the relative strength of these laws does not mean all workers are guaranteed the same amount of leave. Some employers choose to offer their workers additional time off as a benefit to attract more talent. 

This private, employer-based leave is invaluable for many new parents. The problem is that since it is not guaranteed under the law, it can be more difficult to hold employers accountable if they attempt to block workers from taking the promised time off. Here’s what you need to know about different types of parental leave in California and what to do if your employer attempts to block you from taking the time off you were promised in your employment contract.

The Difference Between FMLA Leave and Employer-Based Leave 

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) both guarantee workers up to twelve weeks of protected, unpaid leave in a twelve-month period. These laws specifically allow eligible employees to take time away from work after welcoming a new child into the family with a guarantee that their job will still be there when they get back. 

California also goes a step further. Under the state Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, people who need to take time off for a family reason, such as bonding with a new child, can request partial wage-replacement benefits for up to eight weeks. Eligible workers can receive 60-70% of their weekly wages for those eight weeks from the government. Generally, most employed people qualified for PFL is also eligible for CFRA or FMLA leave, allowing them to take publicly-funded paid parental time away from work.

Under the CFRA, only employers with five or more employees or state and local governments must provide workers with unpaid time away. Furthermore, you need to have been working for your employer for at least 12 months and 1250 hours before you specifically are eligible for this time. 

This is very different from the programs some employers offer. Private employers with parental time off programs can set significantly different terms for eligibility, length, and pay as long as they are equivalent to or better than those already guaranteed by the state. For example, some employers only require workers to be at the company for 90 days before they are eligible. Others, like Google, provide workers with up to 24 weeks of leave, an unprecedented amount in the U.S. 

When Can an Employer Deny Parental Leave?

The problem with employer-based paternity or maternity time is that it is not granted the same protections as state-mandated leave. Instead, it is treated like other benefits like vacation time or sick leave. While employers are required to live up to their contracts with their employees, it can be significantly more difficult to fight back if they do attempt to violate these agreements. Unless an employer fails to meet the requirements set by the state of California, failing to provide the contractually promised amount of time off is considered a contract violation, not a workers’ rights violation.

In addition, private new child policies often have stricter scheduling requirements than government alternatives. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employer can deny requests for medical leave when it is not protected under federal or state law in many circumstances. 

This includes situations where finding someone to replace you for the duration of leave would be particularly difficult, or the length of your break will pose “significant difficulty or expense” to your employer. You must read your employment contract and your employer’s HR policies carefully to determine what amount of time off you are guaranteed under your agreement. 

This does not mean that you have no recourse, though. If your employer promised you paid parental time and refuses to grant it to you, they are breaching the employment contract. You can still take legal action to pursue the compensation and time away you’re owed.

What to Do If You’re Denied Parental Leave Under Your Company’s Policy

California courts take violations of employment contracts very seriously. You can fight back if your employer reneges on your contract or makes it unreasonably difficult to access the parental leave you were promised. Here’s how to get started:

  • Gather relevant documentation: Collect paperwork such as your employment contract and HR policies for your company. These should provide a clear idea of the type of compensation and time off you were offered. It would help if you also gathered any communications regarding your leave request and any updates to the policies that may have occurred after you were hired.
  • Submit a formal complaint with HR: If you have not already done so, submit a formal, written complaint to your HR department, and keep a copy of that complaint yourself. Request a written response rather than a verbal one to ensure there is a paper trail if your request for time away is denied again. 
  • Consult with an experienced attorney: Skilled legal counsel is vital any time you have a contract dispute with your employer. Your attorney will help you understand your rights and determine the best path forward, whether that is negotiating with your employer or filing a lawsuit.

At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, we specialize in helping parents and families who have been impacted by unfair and illegal employment practices. We are available to help you pursue the time off you were promised in your employment contract so you can spend time with your new child. Learn more about how we can help you stand up for your right to paid parental leave by scheduling your consultation with our skilled California employment law attorneys today.

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