Difference Between FMLA and CFRA

FMLA and CFRA are the acts passed by President Clinton and Gavin Newsom respectively, where an employee gets to leave for a particular period on completing 12 weeks of work experience in any firm or organization. Under a policy made by the University of California, an employee is eligible for leave only for family care and medical issues.


The main difference between FMLA and CFRA is that FMLA provides a leave period in cases of pregnancy and parturition (birth of a child) whereas CFRA provides a leave period to the employee for a purpose of palliative care i.e. to take care of their family members suffering from serious illness and health conditions.

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The Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) is an act passed by President Clinton that grants the employees of an organization leave for 12 weeks once a year on account of taking care of pregnancy, including baby purposes and related issues. It was enacted at the 103rd United States Congress. It is a temporary leave granted to the employee for medical purposes.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides an employee with 12 weeks of leave paid or unpaid in one year. The employee can take leave in case of a health emergency where he is physically/mentally unfit to do the job, or wants to take care of ill family members and newborns.

Comparison Table Between FMLA and CFRA

Parameters of ComparisonFMLACFRA
Year of introduction of actPassed in the year 1993Passed in the year 1991
Minimum number of employees workingAt least 50 members are a part of the organizationAt least 5 or more members are a part of the organization
Area of workEmployee working must be staying within 75 miles of areaNo such eligibility mentioned in the act
Medical diagnosisAn employee is allowed to ask for a diagnosis in case of the fragile health of the employee.Employees aren’t asked for the diagnosis but may provide it of their own will.
Reason of applicationIn case of pregnancy of employee, leave is grantedIn case of pregnancy of an employee, she is not eligible for CFRA

What is FMLA?

FMLA, known as the Family and Medical Leave Act was passed in 1993 by President Clinton. This law allows an employee of a particular organization to take unpaid leave for 12 weeks in a work span of 12 months. The employee can sanction his leave in case of taking care of his family members who are serious and medically ill, to take care of her spouse, his child, or other family members.

The leave can be taken when the employee will give birth to a child and to take care of the infant or he/she is physically/mentally unstable. Under FMLA you need not worry about losing your job even if you need leave for 12 months. Because the organization you are working in is forced to follow the act of FMLA passed by the government. This law is a United States law that helps labours to take unpaid leaves for medical issues.

The law is applicable only if the company or firm you work in has 50 or more people working in it. FMLA also facilitates the situation of taking care of the family members who belong to national services and were injured performing the duty. In such cases, FMLA provides extra leave for 6.5 months.

What is CFRA?

CFRA is also known as California Family Rights Act was passed in 1991 he governor Gavin Newsom. This law provides a facility of getting 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave from the organization or a firm you are working in the span of 12 months. This law ensures that if in case you apply for this leave and are in fit to grant the leave under the given criteria, you won’t lose your job.

The eligibility criteria include the following legit cases when you are allowed to take these leaves: when your family member including your parents, your registered domestic parents, and your children are medically weak. If the employee is unable to work efficiently due to some serious health condition, he/she can apply for leave.

The company you work for needs to have at least 5 or more people working as active employees to grant the CFRA law. In CFRA, an employee working in the firm, pregnancy cannot be the reason for serious health conditions. Henceforth, making it an ineligible reason to get leave under the CFRA act. For such reason along with CFRA, the Californian government has also passed a law for pregnancy cases called PDL.

Main Differences Between FMLA and CFRA

  1. FMLA needs 50 or more people working in the firm or organization to be eligible for applying the FMLA law whereas, in the case of CFRA, the organization or company needs to have at least 5 or more people actively working in the company.
  2. In the case of FMLA, pregnancy is considered under the team of SCH i.e. Serious Health Conditions. Hence in CFRA, for pregnancy PDL is issued for 4 months.
  3. In FMLA, a person who has a registered domestic partner is not necessarily his spouse but in CFRA a registered domestic partner can be considered as a spouse and is considered in the band of the term “family”.
  4. In FMLA, if the employee has one of his family members in the army or an ex-serviceman the employee is eligible to take a leave of 3 months whereas CFRA does not implicate any such circumstances.
  5. Under FMLA, an employee who has a family member is injured while on National duty in the military the employee is eligible for a leave period of six and half periods while in CFRA the family member must necessarily be a spouse, parent or a child.


We can conclude that an employee can be eligible for a 3-month working period leave under CFRA to take care of a registered domestic partner or grandparents. Also, be further eligible for 12 more weeks i.e. a total of 24 weeks under FMLA to take care of his family which includes spouse parents and children.

An employee must also inform their employer of the expected date and duration of their leave. If an employee wants to extend his/her leave, he/she should inform the employer before.

Unless the employee is a “major employee” who has been given proper notice, the company must restore him or her for an equivalent position. The employer may request a fitness-for-duty report verifying that the employee can return to work if FMLA/CFRA absence was taken due to the employee’s health issue.


  1. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/02610150110786787/full/html
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/ialrr67&section=50
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