Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the flurry of associated leave issues, Gov. Newsom recently signed Senate Bill 1383 (“SB 1383”) into law, which provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) to employers with as few as five employees.  Beginning on January 1, 2021, when SB 1383 takes effect, employees of most small employers will be eligible for leaves of absence: (1) for the birth of a child; (2) for adoption or foster care placement of a child; (3) to care for a seriously ill family member; and/or (4) to care for the employee’s own serious health condition.

In addition to significantly increasing the number of employers to which the CFRA applies, SB 1383 also expands the definition of a “seriously ill family member” to include grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.  It also permits eligible employees to take CFRA leave for a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States.

The California Chamber of Commerce identified SB 1383 as a “Job Killer” bill due to the significant administrative burden it places on small employers, “as well as increased litigation threats for small businesses trying to reopen during COVID-19 while simultaneously administering a complex and technical leave of absence.

Employers small and large alike should review their CFRA and related leave policies and practices to ensure compliance with these changes.