Five Things Californians Should Know About Paid Family Leave

Posted on 04/01/21

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Español AARP strongly supports the Paid Family Leave program because family caregivers who work shouldn’t have to choose between caring for a loved one and making a living.

Here are five things you should know about California’s Paid Family Leave program:

1) What is Paid Family Leave?

Under state law, working Californians can take up to eight weeks off to care for a seriously ill loved one while still receiving a portion of their wages. Most working Californians will be able to receive up to 60 percent of their wages (lowest income earners will receive 70 percent).  

2) How long has this program been around?

Californians have been able to take Paid Family Leave since 2004 (the law passed in 2002). The benefit has been expanded so that employees can now take paid leave to care for a variety of family members, including parents-in-law, grandchildren, siblings, and grandparents. Starting in 2018, there is no longer a one-week waiting period for benefits to commence.

3) Am I eligible?

You are eligible to take Paid Family Leave if:

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  • You are a caregiver for a seriously ill family member. Qualifying family members include a child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner.
  • Beginning in 2021, you may qualify for PFL Military Assist benefits if you need leave to deal with a qualifying event because of the military deployment of their spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, or child to a foreign country.
  • You have paid into State Disability Insurance (noted as “CASDI” on paystubs) in the past five to 18 months.
  • You have not have taken the maximum eight weeks of Paid Family Leave in the past 12 months.

Most private-sector employees in California will be eligible for Paid Family Leave. If you are a public employee, your employer may opt into the program or Paid Family Leave may be part of your collective bargaining agreement. Check your paystub for “CASDI” deductions to see if you are eligible. 
Paid Family Leave is a wage-replacement program only.  It does not guarantee that your job will be protected when you take leave.  However, Californians working for a company with five or more employees may qualify for job-protected leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), which provides job protection while an employee is receiving wage replacement benefits through Paid Family Leave.  For more information, you should contact your employer’s human resources department, your union, or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.  

4) For whom can I care while taking paid leave?

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Paid Family Leave is available for those who are:


  • Caring for a close relative with a serious health condition, including a child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner;
  • “Bonding” with a child within the first year of their life or placement in the home of adoptive or foster parents: Maternity or paternity leave, whether you are a birth, adoptive, or a foster parent.
  • Qualifying military exigency leave: If one is the spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent of an individual serving in the Armed Forces of the United States who is deployed to covered active duty or called to covered active duty.

5) Where can I get more information about Paid Family Leave and caregiving?

The State of California provides information about the Paid Family Leave program at www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/Paid_Family_Leave.htm.   

The state’s Paid Family Leave toll-free helpline is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST by calling 1-877-238-4373.

Want to request Paid Family Leave?  

Apply online at: https://edd.ca.gov/Disability/How_to_File_a_PFL_Claim_in_SDI_Online.htm

Or, order a paper application at: www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/PFL_Forms_and_Publications.htm

Prepare to Care: A Resource Guide for Families was developed by AARP to help make caregiving more manageable. It includes information on how to have difficult but vital conversations with older family members, organize important documents, assess your loved one’s needs, and locate important resources.

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