California’s Paid Family Leave insurance program (PFL) provides you 60-70% of your wages while you take off up to eight weeks of work in order to:
- care for a seriously ill family member;
- bond with a new child; or
- participate in a qualifying event due to a family member’s military deployment.
California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program At-A-Glance
|California workers covered|| |
|Amount of pay|| |
|Length of pay|| |
|Qualifying reasons to take PFL|| |
In this article, our California employment attorneys discuss:
- 1. Am I eligible for California’s Paid Family Leave program?
- 2. How much will I get paid?
- 3. How long is Paid Family Leave?
- 4. How do I apply for Paid Family Leave in California?
- 5. Can independent contractors get PFL?
- 6. What if I am not a U.S. citizen?
1. Am I eligible for California’s Paid Family Leave program?
In order to be eligible for California PFL benefits, all of the following must be true:
- You are not able to fulfill your regular work.
- You are employed or actively searching for employment when you begin taking family leave.
- You have lost wages because you are care-taking for a seriously ill family member, bonding with a new child, or participating in any military event or attending to an essential need resulting from a family member’s foreign deployment.
- You made no less than $300, from which SDI (State Disability Insurance) deductions were withheld during your base period.
- You submitted a completed claim form to the EDD (Employment Development Department) no earlier than your first day of family leave and no later than your 41st day of family leave.1
1.1. Additional eligibility requirements for new parents
For new parents to receive PFL benefits, the child must have been welcomed into your family in the last 12-month period through
- adoption, or
- foster care placement.
If you are a new mother, note that you may also be eligible for disability insurance (DI) benefits prior to your due date and after childbirth.
(Note that some California employers choose to offer paid parental leave independent of the state’s PFL program. Consult with your HR department about what benefits you are entitled to.)2
See our related articles on pregnancy disability leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, and leave to participate in school activities.
1.2. Additional eligibility requirements for caregivers
To receive PFL pay in order to care-take for family, the patient must be either your:
- registered domestic partner
- child (including biological, adopted, foster, stepchild, your domestic partner’s child, legal ward, or child for whom you are standing in loco parentis),
- parent (biological, adopted, foster, stepparent, legal guardian, or person standing in loco parentis of you when you were a child),
- grandchild, or
Note that “serious health conditions” typically do not include:
- colds and flu,
- minor ulcers,
- cosmetic procedures,
- headaches (unless they are migraines), or
- upset stomachs.3
See our related articles on kin-care leave and bereavement leave.
1.3. Additional eligibility requirements for military family members
To be eligible for PFL military assist benefits, your foreign-deployed family member must be either your:
- registered domestic partner,
- parent (biological, adopted, foster, stepparent, legal guardian, or person standing in loco parentis of you when you were a child), or
- child (including biological, adopted, foster, stepchild, your domestic partner’s child, legal ward, or child for whom you are standing in loco parentis)
Note that “deployment” comprises:
- active duty,
- calls or notices of impending active duty, and/or
- leave to rest and recuperate following active duty
“Qualifying events” which make you eligible for PFL benefits comprise any military event or essential need resulting from your family member’s deployment. Examples include:
- Helping your military family member during rest and recuperation leave,
- Making childcare or parental care arrangements,
- Going to events or ceremonies sponsored by the U.S. Armed Forces,
- Making financial or legal arrangements,
- Going to counseling,
- Representing your military family member at events (local, state, or federal), or
- Making arrangements in the event your military family member died.4
2. How much will I get paid?
You can estimate your paid family leave benefits in California at the EDD’s online PFL calculator.
You should expect to receive a weekly benefit amount of about 60% to 70% of what your weekly wages were five-to-18 months prior to going on leave. This can be as much as $1,620 a week.
You can choose to receive your PFL partial wage replacement by
- check or
- debit card.5
3. How long is Paid Family Leave?
California’s PFL benefit payments last up to eight weeks.6
If you need more than eight weeks, your employer can allow you to use any accrued paid time off (PTO) you have, such as
Otherwise, you may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under CFRA (California Family Rights Act) and/or FMLA (Federal Family and Medical Leave Act).
4. How do I apply for Paid Family Leave in California?
You can file your PFL claim by mail, but it is much quicker and easier to apply online at SDI online. Be sure to have handy your:
- California driver’s license (CDL) number or Identification (ID) card number;
- Social security number;
- Your employer’s name, address, and mailing address (as it appears on your paystub or W-2); and
- The last day you worked your typical duties.
You will also need to supply supporting documentation to show why you are taking leave. For example if you are taking leave to care-take, you will need a medical certificate by the ill family member’s doctor, physician assistant, or nurse.7
5. Can independent contractors get PFL?
No. Though if you believe your employer misclassified you as an independent contractor, you are advised to apply for Paid Family Leave. If the state agrees you were misclassified, you should receive benefits.
Note that independent contractors and self-employed people may be eligible for PFL through the state’s Disability Insurance Elective Coverage (DIEC) program.8
6. What if I am not a U.S. citizen?
California’s Paid Family Leave program is available to citizen and non-citizen employees. Your immigration status should have no effect on your eligibility.9
See our related article on workplace leave laws.
- Unemployment Insurance Code 3301. Unemployment Insurance Code 3302. California Paid Family Leave Program, Employment Development Department (EDD). See, for example, Department of Fair Employment & Housing v. Verizon California, Inc. (; . , 2003)
- Paid Family Leave for Mothers, EDD. Paid Family Leave for Fathers, EDD. Paid Family Leave for Adoptive or Foster Parents, EDD.
- Paid Family Leave for Caregivers, EDD.
- Paid Family Leave for Military Family Members, EDD. Unemployment Insurance Code 3302.2.
- Paid Family Leave Benefits and Payments FAQs, EDD. Side by Side Comparison of Paid Leave Options, EDD. Unemployment Insurance Code 3301. Jeanne Kuang, Newsom signs bill making family leave affordable to more workers, Cal Maters (September 30, 2022). Senate Bill 951 (In 2025, workers earning around $60,000 or more annually will collect 70% of their regular pay for up to eight weeks. People earning less will receive up to 90% of their wages.).
- See note 1.
- Claim for Paid Family Leave Benefits, EDD. Guide For Completing A Claim Form For Paid Family Leave (PFL) Benefits, EDD. How to File a Paid Family Leave Claim in SDI Online, EDD.
- Paid Family Leave – Self-Employed, EDD. See, for example, People v. Uber Technologies, Inc. (. , 2020) 56 Cal. App. 5th 266
- Am I Eligible for Paid Family Leave Benefits? EDD