Employee Benefits and Leave

Employee benefits and leaves are essential to having a healthy work-life balance. These valuable benefits are important in keeping employees happy and promoting career inspiration. Fortunately, California has created regulations that mandate employers to provide their employees with certain benefits.

Not only are wages and bonuses components of an employee’s full compensation package, but so too are benefits. If employers neglect to provide required benefits for employees as mandated by state law, they can be held responsible for their oversight.

The provision of benefits and leaves isn’t merely a statutory requirement but a reflection of a company’s culture and its appreciation for the workforce. When employees feel supported and know that they have the option to take time off when needed—whether for illness, family matters, or even self-improvement—they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to their work.

The ripple effect of such policies is enormous, leading to better employee retention, enhanced employer branding, and overall, a positive and productive work environment. Furthermore, adhering to the California mandated regulations exemplifies an organization’s dedication to lawful operations and ethical practices, creating a trustworthy and appealing workplace for existing and prospective employees.

If you suspect your employer has neglected to offer you these mandatory benefits, do not hesitate to contact the Labor Law Advocates to find out if you have a valid case.

By understanding the legal landscape and having an adept advocate by your side, you empower yourself to take the necessary steps towards ensuring a fair and just work environment, not just for yourself, but potentially for your colleagues as well.

Did your employer violate the law?

California Employee Benefits and Leave

California is widely viewed as the state with the greatest divergence from federal law, providing greater discrimination protections and a federal minimum wage that is higher than other states. Many employers offer their employees employee benefits packages. Additionally, California businesses offer workers family leave insurance and paid sick time/days — benefits that are not mandated at the federal level.

An employer must comply with both federal and state laws. In addition to meeting state and federal regulations, employers must observe any local ordinances that may affect the employee-employer relationship.

Family and Medical Leave Act Benefits

As per the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and its corresponding California Family Rights Act (CFRA), employees have the right to take unpaid time off for healthcare or family-related concerns. FMLA applies to all government entities, elementary schools, secondary schools (public or private), and companies with 50 or more employees.

In California, eligible employees are entitled up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for serious health concerns or maternity/paternity leave following the birth of a child. Furthermore, they may also take time off from work in preparation for a family member’s military service. Employees who are responsible for looking after a family member injured in military service may also be entitled to additional leave to tend to their needs.

Paid Sick Leave

California legislation enforces that employers must grant paid leave to their employees in case of illness or if they need to care for a sick family member. 

Benefit eligibility will depend on whether the employee has worked for 30 days or more within a single year in California, and employees must complete a 90-day employment period before taking paid sick leave. These employees are eligible to receive one hour of paid leave per 30 hours worked, starting on the initial working day.

This law is applied to all California employees, even part-time or temporary employees. Following a particular time frame, any unused sick leave will be forfeited and employees will not receive payment for their remaining days upon termination of employment.

Health Insurance Benefits

Under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the California State Insurance Regulations, there are certain health care requirements California employers must adhere to. California employers must have a minimum of 50 full-time employees to offer medical insurance coverage and medical benefits.

Essential health benefits include:

  • Mental health benefits/care
  • Medical expenses such as laboratory tests and diagnostic services, like x-rays and mammograms
  • Emergency and urgent care
  • Hospital care
  • Visits to a primary healthcare provider and specialists
  • Healthcare costs, such as outpatient procedures (ex. surgery)
  • Pregnancy and newborn care
  • Rehabilitation therapy, such as speech, occupational, and physical therapy
  • Various home health care or nursing home care after a hospital stay
  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Dental & vision care for children

Pregnancy Disability Leave

Pregnant employees have the right to four months of disability leave due to their pregnancy. Pregnant employees may take these leave benefits before or after the birth of their child, depending on the mother’s medical condition. This leave is in addition to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The employee’s job is protected during this leave.

The rationale behind PDL is to address the potential health complications and physical limitations that may arise during pregnancy, which might impede an employee’s ability to perform her duties effectively. This is why the stipulated four months can be availed either before or after childbirth, allowing for flexibility based on individual circumstances.

For employers, the PDL mandate underscores the importance of creating a supportive work environment for expecting mothers. Employers are required to uphold the position of an employee who is on such a leave, ensuring that she can return to her role without any disadvantage. This further promotes a culture of inclusivity and diversity within workplaces.

Vacation Time

California employers are not required by law to provide their employees with either paid or unpaid vacation leave. However, if an employer does have a policy, practice, or agreement to provide paid vacation, then they must follow certain guidelines when providing such pay. California law mandates that earned vacation time is considered wages, as labor is performed.

If an employee does not use their vacation days after a certain period of time, then the employer must pay the wages for those days. By law, employers must compensate workers for any earned but unused paid leave when they leave their job.

Many progressive employers in California opt to offer vacation benefits as a way to promote work-life balance and attract skilled employees. Offering vacation leave can significantly enhance employee well-being, reduce burnout, and increase overall productivity. Therefore, while not a legal necessity, incorporating such benefits into employment packages can be a strategic move for businesses aiming to foster a positive workplace culture and retain high-performing staff.

Holiday Leave

California employers are not mandated to offer their employees paid holidays, close business on any holiday, or provide individuals with a day off for a certain holiday. Therefore this may be considered a voluntary benefit. Hours worked on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays are comparable to hours worked on other days of the week.

While there are no legal obligations to pay extra for work done on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays beyond overtime fees incurred from working more than eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, employers may still choose to do so.

Even though the law doesn’t mandate these holiday benefits, many employers in California recognize the importance of offering such perks to retain and attract top talent. Such voluntary benefits often foster a positive work environment and enhance employee morale. Workers tend to feel more valued and appreciated when their efforts during holidays or weekends are recognized with additional compensation. Consequently, while not legally binding, providing these benefits can be a strategic move for businesses looking to create a more committed and motivated workforce.

Social Security Benefits

In accordance with the law, wages up to a certain amount are subject to taxation in order to provide retirement benefits. The federal government issues Social Security to retirees which are financed through payroll taxes. Employers and employees alike are obligated to pay the same amount in taxes.

The Social Security program plays a key role in ensuring the financial well-being of millions of retirees, disabled individuals, and families of deceased workers in the United States. Not only does it serve as a primary source of income for a significant portion of the elderly population, but it also offers a safety net for those unable to work due to disabilities or untimely death.

By establishing a shared responsibility between employers and employees, the system promotes a collective approach to safeguarding the future of the nation’s workforce.

Workers’ Compensation

No matter the trade or number of workers, California employers are legally obligated to supply their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. Should an employee suffer from a workplace injury or illness, the employer is obligated to provide benefits such as medical care, disability compensation, and rehabilitation.

In the event of a workplace accident, employees are guaranteed immediate medical attention regardless of fault. Furthermore, this system is designed to safeguard both employers and employees by ensuring that injured workers receive timely care without the need for potentially lengthy and costly litigation. It underscores the state’s commitment to a safe working environment and underscores the principle that employees should not bear the financial burden of injuries sustained while contributing to their employer’s objectives.

Retirement Benefits

Businesses in California with five or more employees are legally required to offer a qualified retirement plan or the state-sponsored option. CalSavers, formerly Secure Choice, is a retirement savings plan developed to serve the millions of California private-sector workers who lack a workplace savings program. California law states that employers must offer a retirement savings plan.

If the company is unable to offer a program of its own, it must offer its employees CalSavers, or they may face fines if they neglect to do this. This mandate represents a significant stride towards addressing the retirement savings gap that many workers face, thereby promoting greater financial security in the later stages of life. 

Did your employer violate the law?

You Need an Employment Attorney To Help You

If your past or current employer has been negligent in rewarding employee benefits owed to you, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. Filing a claim such as this can be a complicated process. This is where having an employment law attorney benefits you.

At the Labor Law Advocates, our experienced employment law attorneys are devoted to helping employees who have been unjustly treated receive the compensation they deserve for their neglected benefits. 

Our legal team will file an individual claim or lawsuit against your employer for you. We can also take the needed steps to start a class action lawsuit if other employees have also been denied these common benefits.

Understanding the intricacies of employment law and navigating the complexities of the legal system can be stressful for individuals. Especially when facing powerful corporate entities, having professional legal representation can make all the difference in ensuring your rights are upheld.

The Labor Law Advocates is committed to leveling the playing field. Our attorneys are not only well-versed in the nuances of the law but also believe in passionately advocating for the rights of workers. We understand the emotional and financial toll such disputes can take on an individual and their families. This is why we work tirelessly to provide our clients with the best legal strategies.

Get the Help You Need from an Award-Winning Team

If you suspect that these common employee benefits have been wrongfully withheld from you, you must hold your employer accountable. Do not hesitate to reach out to us for a free and confidential case consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you won't need to pay us a single cent unless we win your case. At the Labor Law Advocates, we firmly believe that every employee deserves to be treated fairly and receive the benefits that are rightfully theirs. We recognize the hesitations and fears individuals may have about pursuing legal action, especially against a current or former employer. Our primary goal is to make this process as seamless and stress-free as possible for you. Our experienced team will guide you every step of the way, from gathering evidence to presenting your case in court if necessary. We are not just your legal representatives; we are your allies in seeking justice. Let us shoulder the legal burdens while you focus on healing and moving forward with your life.


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