Author: shardul

Updated CA Family Care and Leave Act Impacts Small Businesses

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is our state’s counterpart to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The CFRA provides more expansive protection to employees and, as of January 1st, 2021, the CFRA has been updated and expanded. More small businesses in the Bay Area now have obligations under the statute. In this article, our Fremont employment law attorney for employers provides an overview of the key things small businesses should know about the updated California family care and family leave laws.

Background: An Overview of the CFRA

The CFRA is our state’s primary family care and leave law for employees. Under the CFRA, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to deal with a qualifying family or medical emergency. The California Department of Fair Housing and Employment emphasizes that the law provides leave for eligible workers to “care for their own serious health condition or a family member with a serious health condition, or to bond with a new child.”

Dramatic Expansion of CFRA—It Now Applies to Many Small Employers

Recent legislation has changed the scope of the family care and medical leave laws in California. Effective as of January 1st, 2021, many more small businesses are covered by the CFRA. Here are five key things that all small business owners in the Bay Area need to know about the law:

  1. Five or more employees: The CFRA applies to all businesses and organizations with five or more total employees. Only employers with four or fewer workers are exempt from coverage.
  2. Executives are employees: The CFRA clearly states that executives and officers are counted as employees.
  3. No more 75 mile radius: The 75 mile radius requirement—which still counted for the federal FMLA—is no longer an element in the CFRA. It doesn’t matter where employees are located. As more and more workers began to work remotely, California removed the 75 mile radius requirement.
  4. No exception for employers based outside of CA: The CFRA counts all employees—regardless of state. Further, there is no exception to the law for employers based outside of California. If you have an employee in California and you have five or more total workers nationwide, that California employee is covered by the CFRA.
  5. “Family member” is broader: Finally, the term “family member” has been dramatically expanded to include more people. A worker may now be able to take unpaid, job-protected leave to care for an adult child, a sibling, or a grandparent.

Small Businesses Must Ensure that their Employee Handbook is Updated

All small businesses in California should review and, if necessary, revise their employee handbook and/or any other materials that they provide to staff. As the reformed CFRA applies to many more small businesses, it is possible that some companies or organizations are using outdated materials that improperly state that they are not covered by the CFRA. Small businesses can consult with an employment lawyer for employers to ensure that their handbook is fully compliant with the January 1st, 2021 revisions to the CFRA.

Get Help from an Employment Lawyer for Employers in California

Lynnette Ariathurai is an experienced employment attorney for employers. If you are a small business owner in Fremont CA, near Newark, or Hayward, East Bay, Milpitas, Union City, San Leandro, Gilroy, San Jose, or Santa Clara with questions about the updated California Family Rights Act (CFRA), we are here to help. Contact us today to set up a confidential initial appointment.

California employment laws, California Family Rights Act, CRFA, family care, family leave, medical leave

Regulatory Compliance for Medical Practices

Health care is a highly regulated industry. It is crucial that all medical practices are in full compliance with applicable federal and state regulations. Any violation could lead to significant problems—potentially even financial sanctions.

Lynnette Ariathurai is an experienced business lawyer for medical practitioners. Attorney Ariathurai helps all types of medical practice with regulatory issues. To set up a confidential consultation with an experienced business attorney, please contact our Fremont law office today.

An Overview of Federal and State Regulations for Medical Practices in California

 Moscone-Knox Professional Corporation Act

California has specific rules and regulations in place regarding the formation and ownership of medical practices. Medical practices must be structured as professional corporations (PCs) under the Moscone-Knox Professional Corporation Act. If you have any specific questions about forming or structuring a medical practice in California, an experienced business attorney for doctors, nurses, and medical personnel can help.

Anti-Kickback Laws

There are federal and state laws in place prohibiting “kickbacks” for medical referrals. The federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and the California Anti-Kickback Statute largely prohibit the offer of anything of value in exchange for a referral for a patient who participates in a federal or state health program.

Stark Law

Also known as the physician self-referral law, the Stark Law is a federal statute that bars physicians from referring patients that receive service paid by Medicare, Medicaid, or another federal health program to an entity with which the physician or their family member has a financial relationship. There are some limited exceptions to the law.

Regulations against Billing Fraud

Both California and the federal government have strict rules and regulations in place for billing fraud. Notably, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) can bring civil charges for health billing fraud even if the conduct is deemed to be accidental. Medical practices need to understand billing regulations, including the California state prohibition on “surprise medical bills.”

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires medical practices to strictly protect the confidentiality of sensitive patient information. It is imperative that all medical practices operating in California have a well-developed system in place for protecting the privacy of patient records.

Sharing Office Space

It is not uncommon for medical practices—especially smaller medical practices—to share office space. Such an arrangement can be advantageous for all parties involved. Though, in doing so, medical practices must ensure that their conduct is consistent with their lease. A violation of the lease for improper share could lead to problems. Medical practices also need to ensure that patient records are protected as required by HIPAA. In 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released draft guidelines on medical practice share space arrangement. A key principle is that each medical practice should keep its business clearly separate and that proper disclosures should be made to patients.

Get Help from a California Business Lawyer for Medical Practices

Lynnette Ariathurai is a Bay Area business law attorney committed to providing forward-looking legal advice and cost-effective solutions for medical practices in Fremont CA, near Newark, or Hayward, East Bay, Milpitas, Union City, San Leandro, Gilroy, San Jose, or Santa Clara. If you have any questions about regulatory compliance for medical practices, please contact our Fremont office for a strictly confidential consultation. 

health billing regulations, health care regulations, HIPAA, medical practice regulations, structuring a medical practice

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