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Expanding the Definition of "Family Member" – What AB 1041 Means for California Employees

Are you struggling to balance work and caregiving responsibilities? Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and AB 1041, employers with five or more employees are legally required to provide you with up to 12 weeks’ leave to focus on caring for your loved one if they are suffering from a serious health condition, whether they’re a blood relative or not.


In January 2023, AB 1041 was amended to expand the definition of “family member” to include a “designated person” who shares a family-like association with the employee, regardless of their biological relationship. While no examples of the term “designated person” are provided in the bill, this change likely recognizes that modern families are not limited to traditional blood relatives.


What are some examples of modern familial relationships?

Examples might include but are not limited to:

  • Adopted children

  • Godchildren

  • Familial relationships created by marriage

  • Close friendships

Ultimately, the new law gives you the freedom to define what constitutes a “designated person.” This means that you can identify someone as a designated person when you request leave, without having to do so in advance. Your employer may, however, limit your care of designated persons to one per 12-month period.


Will this affect other opportunities for paid leave?

In addition to caring for a family member or designated person, your employer must grant you 12 weeks’ leave for other qualifying reasons. This includes:

  • the birth of your child,

  • the adoption of a child,

  • the foster care of a child by you,

  • caring for your own serious health condition that makes you unable to perform the functions of your job, and

  • a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of your spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States, as specified in Section 3302.2 of the Unemployment Insurance Code.

Caring for a loved one suffering from a serious health condition takes time and energy, and often takes a significant toll on your mental well-being, too. However, CFRA and AB 1041 offer a way for you to care for the ones who need you most without the added stress of juggling work at the same time.


If your employer is refusing your request for time off to care for a family member or designated person, the team at Payton Employment Law, PC can help. Contact us for a confidential review of your case.


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The information provided in this blog post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. All content and information in this blog post are for general informational purposes only. Reading this blog post does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is only created by written agreement.


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