Qualifying for Paid Family Leave (PFL)

Certain things in life require us to take time away from work.

Welcoming a child into your family is a memory you will treasure for a lifetime and it’s important to dedicate all your attention to being in the moment.

This is one example of a time many will consider claiming Paid Family Leave.

If you are in this position, you need to know the eligibility criteria, what you are entitled to, and the process of making a claim.

Here’s some key information to help you make a claim.

What is Paid Family Leave?

Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) provides Californian residents and workers with partial wage replacement benefits where they have to take time off from work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child (including fostered and adopted children).

PFL is funded by California Workers through a State Disability Insurance payroll deduction.

Who is eligible to claim for PFL?

To make a claim, the following eligibility criteria apply:

- You must be a part or full-time employee who contributes to State Disability Insurance (“SDI”) through state-mandated payroll deductions

OR 

- A self-employed Californian / independent contractor who has contributed to the Disability Insurance Elective Coverage Program

AND

- A parent who will lose wages while taking time off work to bond with a new child, entering the family through birth, adoption, or foster care placement

OR

- To care for a seriously ill family member (child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner). 

The length of time you worked at your job and your immigration status does not affect eligibility.

If I Am Eligible to Claim, What Will I Be Entitled To?

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you will receive around 60-70% of your weekly salary earned in the 5 to 18 months before your claim start date.

You can claim for up to eight weeks' salary within any 12-month period, at a maximum of $1300.

Your employer may allow you to use vacation, sick, paid time off, or other leave to supplement your benefit to make it up to 100%.

You can estimate how much you might receive using this calculator.

You can take all the time at once, or you can split it over a 12-month period.

Where the leave is taken to bond with a new child, you can take the leave any time within the first 12 months of the child entering your family.

Your benefits will be paid to you either by an EDD debit card (issued within 24 hours of processing certification and immediately available to you) or by an EDD check in the mail. For checks, you will need to allow 7-10 days for delivery.

Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave & Caregiver Benefit Eligibility Requirements

Maternity leave 

Expectant mothers can receive up to four weeks of Disability Insurance (“DI”) benefits for a normal pregnancy before your expected due date.

You can also receive up to six weeks (normal delivery) or eight weeks (for caesarean section) of DI benefits after delivery to recover from childbirth.

As a new mom, if you already have an active DI related claim, you will automatically be sent a form to transition to PFL.

To be eligible for California PFL benefits, you must:

  • Have welcomed a new child into the family in the past 12 months either through birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
  • Have paid into State Disability Insurance (noted as “CASDI” on pay-stubs) in the past 5 to 18 months.
  • Not have taken a maximum of 8 weeks of PFL in the past 12 months

Paternity leave 

Eligibility criteria are the same as for maternity leave above.

Caregiver benefits 

To be eligible for California PFL benefits, you must:

  • Be a caregiver for an ill family member. A qualifying family member is a child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner.
  • Have paid into State Disability Insurance (noted as “CASDI” on pay-stubs) in the past 5 to 18 months.
  • Not have taken a maximum of 8 weeks of PFL in the past 12 months.

How Do You Apply for Paid Family Leave?

The claim needs to be submitted no later than 41 days after you begin your family leave. You cannot file before you start your leave.

There are two ways you can apply for PFL:

  1. Online at SDI Online
  1. By mail by requesting a Claim for Paid Family Leave (PFL) Benefits (DE 2501F) form here

In your application, you need to include the name of your employer and the date you want your claim to begin.

If you are applying for a bonding claim, you must provide documentation showing proof of the relationship between you and the child (i.e. birth certificate, adoptive placement agreement, or foster care placement record).

For caregiving claims, you must include certification from the care recipient (Page 2 and PART C of the firm) and medical certification from their physician/practitioner (PART D of the form)

Ready to Apply For Paid Family Leave?

If you are ready to make an application for PFL, the EDD website has all the information you need to get started in claiming! Have a look here to help get your claim underway.