California Paid Family Leave (CA PFL)

Group Benefits
Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) laws are expanding in states across the country. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 guarantees eligible employees up to 12 weeks of leave without the threat of losing their benefits or their job. But the FMLA’s protection is limited: it assures only unpaid leave, which many workers can’t afford, and applies only to businesses with 50 or more employees.
California was the first state with Paid Family Leave laws.  California’s Paid Family Leave (CA PFL) program was signed into law in 2002 – with benefits beginning July 1, 2004. CA PFL is part of the California State Disability Insurance (CA SDI) program.
This is an ongoing series of updates on paid family and medical leave developments – so you can be prepared to fulfill all mandated requirements. This release features highlights for the state of California.
With a few exceptions, all employers are required to participate in the state program or by offering a private plan option. Almost all employees are eligible to receive benefits.
Here’s what you need to know about CA PFL and CA SDI.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Care for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or registered domestic partner under CA PFL.
  • Bond with the employee’s child either through birth, adoption or foster care or child of the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner under CA PFL.
  • Be actively treated for a non-work related disability under CA SDI
  • CA PFL will expand in January 2021 to cover exigencies related to military active duty or call to active duty of an employee’s family member.
  • CA PFL provides up to six weeks and CA SDI provides 52 weeks of partial pay. PFL duration expands to eight weeks on July 1, 2020.
  • $1,252 is the weekly maximum. $50 is the weekly minimum.
  • 60 to 70 percent of weekly wage depending on income.
  • CA PFL and CA SDI calculates payment based on base period. Base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the starting date of the new claim.
The weekly benefit amount is determined by using the quarter in which an employee was paid the highest wages in the base period.
CA PFL Base Period Example Rate Chart
NOTE: San Francisco Paid Parental Leave (SFPPL) supplements CA PFL when used for bonding providing up to 100% of an employees’ weekly pay for workers who work in San Francisco. The weekly max is $835 for 2019. Just as CA PFL extends in July 2020, SFPPL will also be extending their supplemental benefit up to eight weeks.
Employee contributions through payroll deductions fund CA PFL and CA SDI. Employers can elect to pay the employees’ share. The SDI withholding rate for 2019 is 1.0 percent. The SDI taxable wage limit is $118,371 per employee in 2019 – making the maximum withholding for each employee $1,183.71.
To qualify for benefits an employee has to have contributed to the CA SDI program through payroll deductions during the previous 18 months.  A self-employed worker has to have contributed to the Disability Elective Coverage Program in the last 18 months.
An employee must have at least $300 in wages in the base period and have paid into SDI.
Any private business that has more than one employee – other than household workers – and pays more than $100 a calendar quarter must register with the Employment Development Department (EDD) and pay and collect state taxes including CA SDI.
California allows employers to offer a self-funded voluntary Disability plan in place of CA SDI. The plan must include both Paid Medical and Paid Family leave. The State of California requires that if an employer opts out of one plan, they must opt out of the other. This plan can be managed by a private insurer on an Administrative Services Only (ASO) basis. The voluntary plan must provide all the benefits of CA SDI, with at least one benefit that is better than the state plan, and it cannot cost the employee more than SDI.
Employers – or a majority of employees – may apply to the Employment Development Department (EDD) for approval of a voluntary plan.
The Hartford can administer CA PFL on approved CA SDI Voluntary plans, but not on a standalone basis. The Hartford offers Paid Family Leave administration on an integrated basis with our self-insured California State Disability Insurance, Short-term Disability and Long-term Disability offerings.
Please reach out to your representative at The Hartford for additional information or have an employee benefits representative from The Hartford contact you.
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This informational material is subject to change as we continue to receive guidance from each state. It shall not be considered legal advice. The Hartford assumes no responsibility for legal compliance with respect to your business practices, and the views and recommendations contained herein shall not constitute our undertaking on your behalf, or for the benefit of others, to determine or warrant that your business operations are in compliance with any law, rule, or regulation. Those seeking resolution of specific legal or business issues, questions, or concerns regarding this topic should consult their own attorney or business advisors.
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