What is Paid Family Leave?

Paid Family Leave (PFL) is an employee-funded state insurance program that provides wage replacement (a percentage of one’s income) to eligible workers when they take time off of work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child.

Workers who contribute to the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) fund are entitled to eight weeks of partial pay within a 12-month period while taking time off from work to:

  • Bond with a newborn baby, adopted or foster child and/or
  • Care for a seriously ill parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, spouse or registered domestic partner

California became the first state in the United States to pass Paid Family Leave in 2002. The program went into effect on July 1, 2004.

How It Works

If you contribute to the California State Disability Insurance fund (look for CA SDI on your pay stubs), you are eligible to receive income replacement through two state-run insurance programs:

  • State Disability Insurance (SDI) when you are on leave for your own temporary disability or serious illness, including pregnancy-related disability, which generally begins at least 4 weeks before birth and lasts 6-8 weeks after.
  • Paid Family Leave (PFL) when you are on leave to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child

Remember that PFL and SDI provide replacement income, but they do not protect your job or require your employer to hold your job for you. You need to separately qualify for Pregnancy Disability Leave or the California Family Rights Act to make sure that your job will be held for you while you are away from work.

Click here for information about the SDI program.

Workers who are eligible for Paid Family Leave (PFL) or State Disability Insurance (SDI) may receive 60% or 70% (depending on their rate of pay) 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 eight weeks consecutively. PFL can be taken intermittently on an hourly, daily or weekly basis as needed.

How Do I Apply?

The PFL and SDI programs are administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD), not your employer. To request an application or inquire about the status of an application, contact the EDD directly. Applications for SDI may be submitted no earlier than 9 days after your first day out of work and no later than 49 days after the day you begin leave. PFL claims may be submitted no earlier than your first day out of work and no later than 41 days after you start your leave. If you submit your application late, you risk not being paid for part of your leave.

To learn more about applying for California PFL or SDI, read our FAQs, and visit EDD’s website.

Health Benefits of Paid Family Leave

Paid Family Leave is a crucial workplace support that has both immediate and long-term benefits to the health, well-being, and economic security of California workers and their families.

Quality bonding time for parents and caregivers in the first year of life promotes an infant’s growth, brain development, and long-term ability to form healthy attachments. Studies show that Paid Family Leave makes bonding possible by doubling the length of leave parents take, and access to bonding time is key to establishing breast/chestfeeding—which is healthiest for babies and contributes to strengthening a child’s immunity and decreases the risk of SIDS. Early studies showed that California’s Paid Family Leave program contributed to doubling the median duration of infant breast/chestfeeding. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that the economic security created by accessing paid leave is a key important element in the prevention of domestic violence in this 2017 report.

Paid Family Leave is also a crucial support for family caregivers who provide care for adults, seniors, or other family members with a serious or chronic health condition. A recent survey showed that Paid Family Leave improves a caregiver’s ability to care for loved ones, whether this means arranging care, taking a loved one to medical appointments, or staying by a loved one’s side while they are in the hospital. PFL has decreased enrollment of elderly family members in nursing homes. For ill children, having a parent or close family member with them in the hospital reduces the amount of time they need to stay by half.*

The important health benefits of Paid Family Leave are only a few reasons why it’s so critical to increase access to this benefit for all workers and families.

*Source : Arora, K., & Wolf, D. A. (2017, November 3). Does Paid Family Leave Reduce Nursing Home Use? The California Experience. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 37(1), 38-62. DOI: 10.1002/pam.22038. The Widening Gap: Why America’s Working Families Are in Jeopardy— and What Can Be Done About It. New York, NY: Basic Books).

Apply Now

California Residents

California residents can apply for paid leave benefits through the Employment Development Department (EDD) of California.

Residents of other states

Residents of other states have to see if there are any paid leave programs offered in your state. If there are not any, you can see if there is an organization in your state that is working on passing paid leave policies, and you can get involved in that work to make paid leave a reality in your state.