In a progressive move, California made history in 2002 as the first state in the United States to create a mandated paid family leave program. While the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) required that jobs be held for eligible workers who need to take time off work for medical reasons, the law did not require employers to provide financial compensation for workers on leave. California went one step further by stating that those workers would also receive financial support during their time off, which led to the Paid Family Leave Act.

Step 1.

Review eligibility requirements to see if you qualify for the Family Leave Act in California. Employers who offer State Disability Insurance (SDI) to their workers must also provide Paid Family Leave (PFL) insurance, so if you're covered by SDI, you should also be covered by PFL. If you're not sure of your insurance coverage, check with your employer's Human Resources department.

Step 2.

Take a look at the ineligibility factors that might keep your Family Leave Act application from being accepted. You may not be able to receive financial support through the Family Leave Act if you already receive Unemployment Insurance or Disability Insurance payments; accept worker's compensation benefits equal to or greater than the current PFL rate, which as of 2010 is 55 percent of your weekly income or a maximum of $987; or refuse to have a medical examination upon request by a PFL official.

Step 3.

Before you apply, make sure the reason for your requested leave of absence meets the requirements of the Family Leave Act in California. You may qualify for PFL if you wish to take time off to care for a close relative with a serious illness; to spend time with your newborn child or newly adopted child; or to nurse your own serious health condition, particularly if that condition requires inpatient care in a medical facility.

Step 4.

Obtain the appropriate forms to apply for the Family Leave Act in California. There are three ways you can request an application form: First, go to the website to request an application form online; second, call 1-877-238-4373 to request an application form by mail; or third, visit a local Disability Insurance office to pick up an application form.

Step 5.

Complete your application in its entirety. View the step-by-step instructions on how to file a claim for the Paid Family Leave Act by visiting the "How to File a Claim" website. Not completing the form correctly could result in delays, so be sure that you double check the form before turning it in.

Step 6.

Mail your completed application form to the PFL office no sooner than nine days and no later than 49 days after you begin your leave of absence. The mailing address you should use is Fresno Paid Family Leave, P.O. Box 997017, Sacramento, CA 95799-7017.