If you live in California and you are about to become a parent, it’s probably a good idea to get more information about the laws regarding maternity leave in this specific state. California has some of the BEST family leave laws in the country, but knowing your rights and responsibilities will help make your leave go smoothly without a hitch.  One of those laws called the PFL or Paid Family Leave went into effect in 2004.  Essentially this is a law that is an extension of the State Disability Insurance program.  If you are about to be a mom, you could not be living in a better state.  Here are a few things you want to or should know about PFL as well as a few other things outside of PFL that you should take note on.

How to Qualify For PFL

  • In order to qualify for this great option, you must follow these requirements:
  • You have to be living in California right now
  • You have to have contributed to the SDI, which usually gets taken out automatically from your paycheck
  • You have to be taking leave for the following reasons:  to bond with a newborn, adopted child or even a foster child or you need to take care of a sick family member. 
  • You will need a doctor’s note to support your leave
  • For child bonding, it has to be within one year of the birth, placement or adoption

How PFL Works

If you do follow the above requirements and you would get leave for your reasoning, you can actually get up to six week worth of wages, at a reduced amount.  In most all cases, you are eligible for 55% of your average weekly income.  The way the state figures out your amount is quite complex but essentially they examine a years’ worth of wages, and then they use the highest average to determine your benefits you would receive.  So it’s not automatically like hey you make $500 a week so you get $275 a month.  No, there is much more to it than that.

When an individual has at least $300 worth of wages made in that base period will qualify for their own benefits.  There is actually a chart you can check out if you really want to see how this all works, you can find that information here:


It includes everything you need to try to figure out a ballpark estimate.  As you can see on that PDF this is an updated version and reflects these new laws in an updated manner.

Other Things to Think About

If you want these benefits, you have to wait at least a week before they go into effect.  Before it goes into effect your boss or employer might have you use sick days or vacation days before the PFL benefits start.  There really is no financial reason this should or shouldn’t be done; it’s mainly just depending on your boss and job.  If you want to you can actually break up your six weeks off.  Meaning you don’t have to take all six weeks at once, you can instead, take them in bits and pieces.  Lastly, both of the parents of the newborn, adopted child or fostered child, can be eligible for PFL and they can both either take it off together or stagger the leave times.

Claiming PFL

Your employer does not pay PFL benefits. Instead, the State of California handles these payments and approves your application. To apply for PFL, visit the State of California Employment Development Department website or call 1-877-238-4373.

As you can see here, PFL is an amazing benefit and those that live in California are incredibly lucky to have such a convenient way to spend time with their children and not get banished, fired or harassed because of it.  But, if you are getting harassed about it, your boss is giving you a hard time or you have been threatened to be fired for leave time, call a Top employment attorney because this is illegal.  It’s your right as a citizen of California to take off thanks to this law.  Don’t let someone take advantage of you just because they threaten your welfare.