What is Paid Family Leave?

Workers need time off to care for themselves and their loved ones. But many workers find that taking unpaid time off to meet their family duties places a severe economic burden on their families and is unmanageable. The result is that many families are forced to make a terrible choice—to forgo caring for their loved ones during times of medical need, or to leave their jobs and risk severe economic uncertainty. This choice is bad for communities, and bad for our economy.

In 2002, California became the first state in the United States to create the Paid Family Leave (PFL) program – a family leave insurance program that provides income replacement to eligible workers for family caregiving or bonding with a new child. The program went into effect on July 1, 2004.

Workers who contribute to the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) fund are entitled to six weeks of partial pay each year while taking time off from work to:

  • Bond with a newborn baby, adopted or foster child
  • Care for a seriously ill parent, child, spouse or registered domestic partner

In September 2013, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 770 (Jackson), which expands PFL to include caring for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and parents-in-law. These additional family members will be covered beginning July 1, 2014, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of Paid Family Leave’s implementation in California.

How It Works

If you contribute to the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) fund, you are eligible to receive income replacement through two state-run insurance programs:

  • Disability Insurance (DI) when you are on leave for your own disability or illness, including pregnancy-related disabilities
  • Paid Family Leave (PFL) when you are on leave to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child

Click here for information about the DI program.

Workers who are eligible for Paid Family Leave (PFL) may receive up to 55% of their weekly wages up to a maximum weekly benefit amount. The benefit amount is determined by weekly wages in the base period. View this chart to learn more about the base period and your estimated weekly benefit amount.

Workers do not need to take all six weeks consecutively. PFL can be taken intermittently on an hourly, daily or weekly basis as needed. Before receiving benefits, workers must serve a seven day non-payable waiting period.

You may have rights to job-protected family and medical leave through state and/or federal law, employer policy, or union contract. To learn more about your right to take leave, read these fact sheets from the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center.

How Do I Apply?

The PFL program is administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD), not your employer. To request an application or inquire about the status of an application, contact EDD directly. Applications may be submitted no earlier than 9 days before and no later than 49 days after the day you begin leave.

To learn more about the California PFL program, read our Ask Us section, and visit EDD’s website.