If you’re like most adoptive parents, you understand how important it is to bond with your child – but do California employers see it the same way? Can you take leave from work if you adopt a child, or does the law only protect birth parents? This guide explains.
Can I Take Leave From Work if I Adopt a Child in California?
In the state of California, you can take leave from work if you adopt a child – but only if you meet certain conditions. The California Family Rights Act, or CFRA, guarantees you time off that you can use to bond with your child. You must have:
- A new child (this can be through birth, adoption or foster placement)
- Worked for your employer for at least a year
- 1,250 hours of service in the past year for the employer
Additionally, your employer must have five or more employees.
How Much Leave Do You Get if You Adopt a Child?
Your employer must give you up to 12 weeks of leave within a year of the child’s adoption. This time runs concurrently with leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA.
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Do You Have to Take All Your Adoption Leave at Once?
You don’t have to take your bonding or adoption leave all at the same time. In fact, you’re allowed to take it in several two-week blocks. (And on two occasions, CFRA allows you to take leave in smaller increments of time.)
Can Your Employer Fire You for Taking Bonding or Adoption Leave?
Your employer cannot fire you for taking leave to care for your newly adopted child. You’ll be reinstated to the same job or a comparable job unless there are special circumstances that aren’t related to your leave (such as layoffs your company has to undertake).
Does your Employer Have to Pay You During Adoption Leave?
In the state of California, employers aren’t required to pay you for adoption leave. However, if your company pays other employees on CFRA leave, or if you use your accrued paid time off (like vacation days), your employer will have to pay you. You can also apply for Paid Family Leave, or PFL; if you qualify, you’ll get paid (though not by your employer).
Related: Can an employer refuse to hire you if you have a disability?
What is Paid Family Leave?
In California, Paid Family Leave provides benefit payments to people who need to take leave from work in order to bond with a new child. (It also provides benefit payments to people who need to care for a seriously ill family member or participate in certain events because a family member is deployed with the military.)
If you’re eligible, you may be able to receive PFL benefits for up to eight weeks. You’ll be paid around 60 to 70 percent of the weekly wages you earned 5 to 18 months before your claim started.
Can Your Employer Require You to Use Vacation Time to Bond With Your New Child?
Your employer may require you to use your vacation time when you want to take leave after adopting a child. However, if you’re receiving Paid Family Leave, your employer can’t require you to use it. Your employer also can’t require you to use sick leave days – but you and your employer can agree that you’ll use it if you want to.
Related: Can you sue your employer for firing you while you’re pregnant?
Can Your Employer Kick You Off Healthcare Coverage for Taking Leave After Adopting a Child?
Your employer can’t kick you off your healthcare plan if it normally pays for your benefits. It must keep paying for your group healthcare benefits in that situation.
Can Your Employer Take Away Other Benefits?
Your employer cannot take away benefits because you take adoption leave.
Are Both Parents Entitled to Take Adoption Leave, or Just One?
Both parents are entitled to CFRA leave. That’s true even if you both work for the same employer.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Being Denied Leave After Adopting a Child in California?
If your employer has refused to let you take leave or has otherwise violated your rights when it comes to your adoption, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below now to find out whether you might have a case. If you do, we may be able to help you recover damages, get your job back or be reinstated to your former position.