Be in the Know: New Rules on Leave

Since January 1, 2004, California’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) has been in effect.

Coverage and cost

Learn more about your state rules and eligibility.

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Covered employers

All private sector employers with California employees.

Coverage options

State plan or state-approved private plan. Private plans must be approved by a majority of employees and must be more generous than the state plan.


1.1% of employee wages up to $145,600 annually (maximum annual contribution is $1,601.60). Employer may elect to pay all or part of the employee contribution. For state-approved private plans, the employer must fund the additional cost if the private plan is greater than the state cost.

Employee eligibility

To be eligible for PFML benefits, employees must have contributed to the Paid Medical Leave (PML) program during the previous 18 months and earned at least $300 in gross wages during the base period during which PML deductions were taken.

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Leave reasons

Family, bonding, medical and military exigency.

Job protection

California PFML does not provide job protection.

Other protections and provisions

No waiting period is required for Paid Family Leave (PFL) but the employer may require that employees use two weeks of vacation/PTO (not including sick leave) before receiving PFL benefits.


  • For employees who make up to one-third of the state’s average weekly wage (SAWW), 70% of the employee’s quarterly base wages.
  • For employees who make more than one-third of the SAWW, 60% of the employee’s quarterly base wages.
  • Maximum weekly benefit = $1,540.
  • Medical leave has a seven-day waiting period and is capped at 52 weeks of benefits.
  • Family leave has no waiting period and is capped at eight weeks of benefits.
  • Effective January 1, 2025, for employees who make 70% or less than the SAWW, 90% of the employee’s quarterly base wages. For employees that make more than 70% the SAWW, 70% of the employee’s quarterly base wages.
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Timeline and key dates

  • Effective July 1, 2004
  • Effective January 1, 2021: leave to address qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s call to active duty service is a qualifying reason for leave.

Need more information?

Visit California’s website for additional details.

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How Unum can help

While Unum does not offer California PML or PFL insurance plans, we do administer an employer’s self-funded California PML plan.

Have questions?

Reach out to our sales team to learn more about Unum’s state PFML and absence management solutions.