California employers: the California Family Rights Act, amended

Earlier this week, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1033, which will go into effect on January 1, 2022. This bill amends the California Family Rights Act by expanding qualifying family members to include parent-in-law. Currently, qualifying family members under CFRA include spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, child of any age, child of a domestic partner, grandchild, grandparent, or sibling.

Additionally, the bill modifies procedures under the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s (DFEH) existing mediation pilot program. The current mediation pilot program provides dispute resolution opportunities for small employers with between 5 and 19 employees. However, under the current program, employees who obtain an immediate “right to sue” notice can circumvent the mediation process, and in many cases, the employer is not even aware a complaint was filed until they are sued. This bill corrects that flaw by:

  • Requiring participation in the mediation program before filing a lawsuit
  • Requiring the DFEH to notify employees of the mediation requirement and instructing them on how to initiate mediation
  • Clarifying that an employer has a right to pursue mediation if a complaint should have been subject to the mediation pilot program

We are continuing to see states making an excellent effort in creating easy to understand tools for employees and employers to learn about changes. For additional information on the current state of CFRA, refer to this brochure, which the DFEH created when CFRA was expanded back in January of 2021. 

Illinois employers: changes to Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA)

House Bill 3582, also effective on January 1, 2022, has a handful of changes which impact the Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA). Unlike the broader leave law of CFRA noted above, VESSA is specific to unpaid leave for victims or family members of victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, or gender violence. There are three distinct changes that impact the administration of Illinois VESSA leaves of absence.

First, like CFRA, the definition of family member has been expanded. This bill adds relationships of party to a civil union, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or “any other individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship as determined by the employee.” The bill also specifically identifies “other person who shares a relationship through a child,” which therefore could include an ex-spouse, without any need for them to reside with the employee. Here is a breakdown of current and future relationships.

Current Relationships

Additional Relationships as of January 1, 2022

  • Spouse
  • Party to a civil union
  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Son
  • Child (replaces son or daughter)
  • Daughter
  • Grandchild
  • Person related by blood
  •  Sibling
  • Person related by marriage or prior marriage
  • Person related by prior civil union
  • Person who shares a relationship through son or daughter
  • Person who shares a relationship through a child (replaces son or daughter)
  • Persons jointly residing in the same household
  • Individual whose close association with the employee is equivalent of a family relationship determined by the employee

Second, the law has also extended the reason for leave to include “crime of violence”, which includes harassment and obscene communication, armed violence, and other crimes.

Third, this bill modifies certification requirements for employees who request leave, clarifying that an employee can choose the type of documentation to submit. It also prohibits the employer from requiring more than one certifying document during the same 12-month period in which the leave is requested or taken or if the leave reason is related to the same incident(s) or the same perpetrator(s).

For more information on Illinois VESSA, this is an easily digestible two-page reference tool.

What Guardian is doing

Guardian is working with our Product and Operations teams to incorporate these changes into our leave administration.

Guardian continuously tracks and analyzes current and pending leave and accommodation legislation to determine potential impacts to our customers.

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Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. Guardian does not provide legal services. Consult with independent legal counsel to determine impact to your company. Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.

2021-127849  20231031