Find answers to frequently asked questions about the California Paid Family Leave (PFL) program.
For questions related to your leave rights at work, check out these fact sheets from the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center.
PFL provides you income replacement while on leave - it does not guarantee job protection during your leave. However, you may be eligible for job-protected leave through the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) or the California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) law. If you are a union member, you may have the right to job-protected leave through a collective bargaining agreement. To learn more about job protection during your leave, review these factsheets produced by our partners at the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center.
Your employer may require you to use up to two weeks of earned but unused vacation leave prior to getting PFL benefits. Vacation leave may include paid time off. One week of vacation leave can be used during your 7-day waiting period. However, your employer can not require you to take sick leave before getting PFL benefits.
You are required to file a medical certificate that establishes the serious health condition of the family member who needs care. The certificate does not have to identify the serious medical condition involved, but it must include the following: the date, if known, on which the condition started; the probable duration of the condition; an estimate of the amount of time care is needed; and a statement that the serious health condition warrants your care.
Multiple workers may take PFL to provide physical care or psychological comfort, or to arrange third party care, for the same family member. In a 24-hour period, up to three individuals who are able and available to provide care for the same care recipient may receive PFL benefits.
You may take PFL to care for a family member with a serious health condition who does not live in California. You must still obtain a medical certificate from the health care provider to establish your family member’s serious health condition as described in Question #3 above. The health care provider must be licensed or certified in the state or country where your family member is receiving treatment.
Your PFL benefits are determined by your earnings in the base period. The base period is the 12-month period ranging from 5 to 18 months prior to the beginning of your PFL claim. The wages included in the base period must have been subject to the SDI tax. You must have at least $300 in wages in the base period to qualify for PFL. Your weekly PFL benefit will be 55% of your wages as determined by the highest quarter of earnings in your base period. View a chart of weekly PFL benefits based on earnings in your base period.
All six weeks of PFL do not need to be taken consecutively. You can take PFL in hourly, daily or weekly increments as needed. However, you must wait the full 7-day waiting period before getting PFL benefits, as described in Question #11 below.
You do not have to work a minimum number of hours or days to be eligible for PFL benefits. The amount of benefits you receive is determined by your earnings in the base period, not by the number of hours or days worked. Read Question #6 above to review how PFL benefits are determined.
You can get PFL benefits after your pregnancy disability leave. Even if you received State Disability Insurance (SDI) payments during your pregnancy disability leave, you can subsequently take PFL to bond with your new child. The 7-day waiting period required for SDI when taking pregnancy disability leave counts towards the 7-day waiting period for PFL.
The first seven calendar days of a PFL claim is a non-payable waiting period. Click here for an example of serving the waiting period over the first 7 consecutive days of your leave. If you are taking leave intermittently, any day you provide care counts toward your waiting period. Click here for an example of serving the waiting period over non-consecutive days.
New mothers transitioning from a Disability Insurance (DI) to PFL claim are not required to serve a 7-day waiting period before receiving PFL benefits. Once you have served the 7-day waiting period, you do not need to serve another waiting period if you are taking leave for the same reason.
You are eligible for PFL benefits if you pay into the SDI program and meet all other eligibility requirements. You do not have to be a U.S. Citizen to be eligible.
Both parents can take PFL to bond with a new child. You and your spouse do not need to take PFL at the same time.
You can receive PFL benefits while bonding with a newborn baby during the first year of the child’s birth. If you are taking leave to bond with an adopted or foster child under the age of 18, you are eligible for PFL benefits within the first year of the child’s placement with you.
Contact the California Employment Development Department (EDD) to request an application or inquire about the state of your application. To answer your questions about the PFL program, EDD has toll-free phone lines in several languages – view a list of phone numbers by language.