Effective January 1, 2011, California employees may now take paid time off from work for the purpose of organ and bone marrow donations. Specifically, California SB 1304 requires that California employers with 15 or more employees provide their employees with up to 30 days of paid time off in any one-year period for the purpose of donating an organ to another person. An employee also may take up to five days of paid time off to donate bone marrow to another person. In order to receive the leave of absence, the employee must provide his or her employer with written medical certification.

A leave of absence for an organ or bone marrow donation may not count as a break-in-service for the purpose of an employee’s right to salary adjustments, sick leave, vacation, annual leave, or seniority. In addition, the employer must maintain and pay for group health plan coverage for the full duration of the leave.

An employer may require that the employee take up to five days of earned but unused sick or vacation leave for a bone marrow donation, and up to two weeks of earned but unused sick or vacation leave for an organ donation, unless doing so would violate the provisions of any applicable collective bargaining agreement.

Time off for organ and bone marrow donations may not run concurrently with any federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave entitlements. Thus, an employee could be eligible for both 30 days of leave for an organ donation and another 12 weeks of FMLA/CFRA leave for a serious medical condition related to that same donation.

Upon conclusion of the leave, the employee must be reinstated to his or her original position, or to a position with equivalent seniority status, employee benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.