• 12-month period during which employees can take 12 weeks of CFRA and/or FMLA leave. Employers can use one of four methods:
    • Method One — The calendar year.
    • Method Two — Any fixed 12-month leave year, such as a fiscal year, or a year starting on an employee’s anniversary date.
    • Method Three — The 12-month period measured forward from the date an employee’s first family leave begins.
    • Method Four — A rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any family leave.


  • accrue - To accumulate or have due after a period of time.
  • Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) - An ALJ is appointed by an administrative agency for the purpose of conducting hearings and rendering decisions under the agency's unique jurisdiction.
  • adverse action - An employment decision that has a negative impact on the terms and conditions of an employee's job.
  • affirmative action - An active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of protected classes.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) - The federal ADEA protects employees age 40 or over from employment discrimination on the basis of age.
  • alternative workweek - An alternative scheduling method following legally required steps that allows employees to work more than eight hours in a workday during a standard workweek over less than a five-day period in one week or over a 10-day period in two weeks without earning overtime for hours worked more than eight in one day.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) - The federal ADA prohibits employers of 15 or more employees in the private and public sectors from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities.
  • arbitration - A nonjudicial procedure for resolving disputes using one or more neutral third parties as decision-makers.
  • at-will employment - Employment status assumed by California law unless the employer and employee agree otherwise. Under at-will employment, either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship with or without advance notice or cause.
  • Back to top


  • bargaining unit - A group of two or more employees who share a common interest and may be grouped together for purposes of collective bargaining.
  • Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) - BFOQs are qualifications and characteristics reasonably necessary to perform duties, tasks or processes related to a particular occupation.
  • Back to top


  • California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) - Cal/OSHA enforces California laws and regulations pertaining to workplace safety and health.
  • California Continuation of Benefits Replacement Act (Cal-COBRA) - Cal-COBRA requires insurance carriers and HMOs to provide COBRA-like coverage for employees of smaller employers (2–19 employees) not subject to COBRA.
  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA) - CFRA provides employees 12 weeks of leave for bonding with a newborn or adopted child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, and/or caring for the employee's own serious health condition.
  • California Labor Commissioner - Sets and enforces California's wage and hour laws. Investigates, holds hearings and takes action to recover wages.
  • Civil Rights Department (CRD) - formerly the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the CRD is the state agency charged with enforcing California’s civil rights laws. This includes protecting the people of California from unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, businesses and state-funded programs, and from bias-motivated violence and human trafficking.
  • claimant - Individual making a claim for a benefit before an administrative agency.
  • collective bargaining agreement - A collective bargaining agreement is the result of negotiations between an employer and union representatives. The agreement establishes employees' terms and conditions of employment, such as wages, hours of work, working conditions and grievance procedures.
  • commission - Compensation paid to an employee based on a proportional amount of sales of the employer's property or services.
  • compensation - Any monetary payment related to work, including wages, commissions and bonuses.
  • Compensatory Time Off (CTO) - CTO gives a nonexempt employee time off for extra hours worked instead of paying overtime. It's illegal in the private sector.
  • concurrent leave - Two different types of leave (for example, Pregnancy Disability Leave and leave under the Family Medical Leave Act) that are used simultaneously.
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) - COBRA requires employers with 20 or more employees to offer all employees covered by health care insurance the option of continuing to be covered by the company's group health insurance plan at the worker's own expense for a specific period (often 18 months) after employment ends or after other qualifying events.
  • constructive discharge - Wrongful termination based upon working conditions that are so intolerable a reasonable person would be forced to resign.
  • contingent workers - Workers that are temporary or seasonal, employed by temporary staffing agencies or employed under leasing arrangements.


  • deduction - Money withheld from an employee's gross earnings for legally required or permitted purposes, such as taxes, garnishments, contributions to retirement plans or health plan premiums.
  • Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) - In 2022, California's DFEH was renamed as the Civil Rights Department.
  • Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) - California's DIR has these major areas of responsibility: employment law, workplace safety and health, apprenticeship training, workers' compensation, statistics and research, mediation and conciliation.
  • Department of Labor (DOL), U.S. - The federal DOL administers and enforces a variety of federal labor laws, including those relating to working conditions, hourly wages and overtime pay, employment discrimination and unemployment insurance.
  • disability insurance - A voluntary plan that provides short-term benefits for employees disabled by a non-work-related illness or injury. A voluntary plan is separate from the State Disability Insurance program.
  • disparate impact - An employment practice that appears neutral but is discriminatory because it has an unjustified adverse impact on a protected class.
  • disparate treatment - Refers to the unequal treatment of an applicant or an employee because of his or her membership in a protected class.
  • Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) - California's DLSE investigates wage claims and discrimination complaints and enforces California's employment laws and IWC Wage Orders.
  • Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) - California's DOSH enforces state occupational and public safety laws, and provides information and assistance about workplace and public safety matters.
  • Back to top


  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) - An EAP is a workplace program provided by employers to assist employees in recovering from or dealing with personal matters.
  • employee benefit plans - Welfare and pension plans voluntarily established and maintained by an employer, an employee organization or jointly by one or more such employers and an employee organization. Governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) - ERISA regulates employee benefit plans. ERISA sets uniform minimum standards to assure that employee benefit plans are established and maintained in a fair and financially sound manner. It sets requirements for managing and administering private pension and welfare plans.
  • employment at-will - Employment status assumed by California law unless the employer and employee agree otherwise. Under at-will employment, either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship with or without advance notice or cause.
  • Employment Development Department (EDD) - Helps employers meet their labor needs and job seekers to obtain employment. The EDD collects and administers employment-related taxes and programs, including unemployment insurance, state disability insurance, paid family leave, employment training tax and personal income tax.
  • en banc decision - The hearing of a case by all the judges of a court, usually when the case concerns a matter of particular legal importance.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) - The federal EEOC interprets and enforces federal anti-discrimination law.
  • Back to top


  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) - The FCRA is the federal law that regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information, including consumer credit information. The FCRA restricts an employer's legal ability to use credit reports for employment purposes.
  • Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) - California's FEHA prohibits discrimination/harassment on the basis of race/color, religious creed, national origin/ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, genetic information or characteristics, medical condition, marital status, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related medical conditions), gender identity/expression, age, veteran or military status, and sexual orientation.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - The federal FLSA regulates minimum wages, overtime and working conditions for employees.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA) - The federal FMLA provides employees 12 weeks of leave for bonding with a newborn or adopted child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, and/or caring for the employee's own serious health condition.
  • family leave - Family and medical leave, typically called "family leave," is time off available to employees who have a serious health condition, or to care for an ill family member, or to bond with a newborn or child placed for adoption or foster care (as specifically defined in federal and state statutes).
  • fitness for duty - A medical practitioner's certification releasing an individual under the physician's care to assume or resume full or modified duties following a leave of absence due to illness or injury.
  • flat rate - Pay based on a job completed, not the number of hours spent completing it.
  • flexible schedule - An eight-hour work schedule that includes flexibility in how the employee works those eight hours, for example, starting earlier and ending earlier.
  • Form I-9 - The Employment Eligibility Verification form issued by the federal government. All employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment.
  • front pay - A type of damages award in an employment lawsuit for lost wages and income during the period between judgment and reinstatement, or if reinstatement is not feasible, instead of reinstatement.
  • Back to top


  • garnishments - Money withheld by court order from an employee's check to pay for debt, back taxes or child support.
  • gender identity - Each person’s internal understanding of their gender, which may include male, female, a combination of male and female, neither male nor female, a gender different than the person’s sex assigned at birth or transgender. Gender identity, gender expression and transgender are all protected under California law.
  • genetic characteristics - The characteristics of an individual's genetic makeup. These characteristics could include family history of disease or disabilities.
  • genetic information - Includes any request for or receipt of genetic services, by any individual or any family member of that individual.
  • good faith and fair dealing - Employment decisions that are made fairly, treating similarly situated employees in the same manner.
  • gross misconduct - Refers to employee conduct such as stealing from his/her employer or sexual harassment. Such conduct is usually illegal.
  • Back to top


  • Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) Program - A program to communicate workplace hazards to employees, particularly when employees handle or may be exposed to hazardous substances during normal work or foreseeable emergencies.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) - The federal HIPAA limits the extent to which a new employer's health plan can establish barriers, such as denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, which will delay or prevent new employees from becoming fully covered under a new plan.
  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) - An HMO provides comprehensive health care to voluntarily enrolled individuals and families in a particular geographic area by member physicians, with limited referral to outside specialists.
  • hostile work environment - A work environment that interferes with a person's ability to do his/her job and may violate employment laws related to discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation.
  • Back to top


  • Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) - The federal IRCA requires employers to verify all employees' eligibility to work in the United States.
  • independent contractor - A person or company that supplies goods or services to an entity but is not an employee of that entity.
  • Injury and Illness Prevention (IIPP) Program - California law requires every company in California to create an IIPP. An IIPP is a generalized plan for keeping a workforce free from work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Back to top


  • just cause - A fair and honest cause or reason, acted on in good faith by the employer.
  • Back to top


  • leased employees - A category of employees, typically from an employee-leasing company. Employers contract with the third party to lease employees, rather than employing them directly.
  • living wage - A wage sufficient to provide the necessities and comforts essential to an acceptable standard of living.
  • Log 300 - A series of recordkeeping legal forms for recording workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Back to top


  • makeup time - Nonexempt employees' request for time off for a personal obligation without incurring overtime pay.
  • meal break - An unpaid, 30-minute block of off-duty time for nonexempt employees.
  • minimum salary - The smallest amount a salaried exempt employee may be paid to be considered exempt from California wage and hour laws. 
  • minimum wage - The lowest hourly wage an employer may pay a nonexempt employee.
  • minor - Any person younger than the age of 18 and required to attend school, or any person under the age of six.
  • Back to top


  • noncompete agreements - With few exceptions, noncompete agreements are illegal in California. A noncompete agreement is an agreement between an employer and an employee that stipulates that when an employee leaves the company, he/she will not work for a competitor for a certain period of time.
  • nonexempt - An employee who is subject to California laws pertaining to overtime, minimum wage, meal periods and rest periods.
  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) - The standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy.
  • Back to top


  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) - The federal OSHA ensures safe and healthful workplaces.
  • open-door policy - A policy encouraging employees to bring employment issues to the attention of the employer.
  • open enrollment - A period of time during which employees can sign up for an employer's group health plan or other benefit plan. 
  • Back to top


  • Paid Family Leave (PFL) - California's wage replacement program for employees unable to work because they are caring for an ill family member or because they are bonding with a newborn or a child placed for adoption or foster care.
  • Paid Time Off (PTO) - PTO is a way to combine various types of leave, such as sick time and vacation time.
  • pension plan - Retirement income.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - PPE refers to items that protect employees against hazards.
  • piece rate - An amount paid for completing a particular task or making a particular piece of goods.
  • Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) - California employers with five or more employees must provide PDL for up to four months for employees disabled by pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) - The federal PDA requires that employers treat a pregnant employee the same as any other employee.
  • Proposition 65 - Requires employers with 10 or more employees to provide warnings about chemical exposure.
    Back to top ↑


  • qualified beneficiary - An employee covered under an employer's group health plan. 
  • qualifying event - For benefits purposes, one of several events that permit a change of benefits enrollment or that entitles an eligible beneficiary to COBRA or Cal-COBRA benefits.
  • quid pro quo - A type of sexual harassment that conditions employment on exchange for sexual favors.
  • Back to top


  • rate of pay - A fixed amount of payment based on a unit of time or a piece of work performed.
  • reasonable accommodation - Any change in the work environment, the way a job is performed or in the application process that enables a person with a disability to participate in the application process or perform the essential job functions. 
  • reduction in force - Often referred to by the acronym "RIF," a reduction in force is a layoff of a group of employees. 
  • registered domestic partner - A registered domestic partner is a person who is part of a couple that is registered with the Secretary of State.
  • regular rate of pay - The calculated amount of an employee's actual earnings.
  • Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI) - A problematic injury caused by overuse or overexertion of some part of the musculoskeletal system. RMIs usually build over time.
  • reporting time pay - Pay for when an employee reports to work at his/her normal time and is not put to work, or is given less than half the hours for which he/she was scheduled.
  • rest break - A 10-minute, paid block of rest time for nonexempt employees for each four hours (or major portion thereof) worked.
  • retaliation - Any adverse employment action taken against someone for exercising his/her legal rights or opposing unlawful practices.
  • retirement plan - A fund that provides individuals with income after retirement.
  • Back to top


  • safety data sheet - A safety data sheet is provided by the manufacturer of a product to describe the product's chemical properties and potential hazards and give instructions for the safe handling of the product.
  • salary - A fixed amount of money for each payroll period, whether weekly, bi-weekly, semimonthly or monthly.
  • severance pay - Money paid to an employee at the time of termination or layoff, to compensate, in part, for the sudden job loss. California law does not require severance pay.
  • sexual harassment - Unwelcome verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Need not be motivated by sexual desire.
  • split shift - A split shift is a work schedule that is interrupted by non-paid and non-working time periods established by the employer. The time period between shifts needs to be longer than a bona fide meal period and needs to be within the same workday.
  • Standard Industry Code (SIC) - The SIC is a system that classifies businesses by their primary activity. The SIC is used for a variety of identification purposes.
  • standby - Time the employee spends waiting to be called to work.
  • State Disability Insurance (SDI) - California's SDI program provides temporary disability benefits for employees disabled by a non-work-related illness or injury. SDI benefits are paid by the Employment Development Department from a tax paid by employees.
  • statute - A law enacted by the legislative branch of a government.
  • Back to top


  • Targeted Inspection and Consultation Program (TICP) - Cal/OSHA's TICP identifies certain high-hazard employers
  • telecommute - To work outside of the usual workplace, often at home, or at a location away from the usual workplace.
  • Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964 - Prohibits employers of 15 or more employees from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or veteran status.
  • Back to top


  • Unemployment Insurance (UI) - The UI program provides weekly unemployment insurance payments for workers who lose their job through no fault of their own.
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) - The federal USERRA prohibits discrimination or reprisals against past and present members of the uniformed service.
  • "use it or lose it" policy - Refers to a policy covering vacation time in which the policy states that if an employee does not use accrued vacation time in a specific timeframe, the employee loses the vacation time.
  • Back to top


  • Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) - The federal agency that provides employment related assistance for veterans.
  • volunteer - A person who intends to give his/her time to a nonprofit organization for public service, religious or humanitarian objectives without the expectation of receiving payment.
  • Back to top


  • Wage Orders - Contain the instructions for payment of wages to nonexempt employees as well as specific rights and responsibilities of the employee and the employer. There are currently 17 Wage Orders, organized according to industry and occupation, plus a Minimum Wage Order.
  • wages - Money received by an employee for any labor performed.
  • welfare plan - Benefits for employees. Some types of welfare plans are governed by federal law -- ERISA.
  • whistle-blowing - Any report made by an employee or an employee's family member of suspected illegal activity on the part of an employer.
  • workday - Any consecutive 24-hour period starting at the same time each calendar day.
  • Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) - The federal and state WARN acts require employers to give employees advance notice of a plant closing or a mass layoff under some circumstances.
  • workers' compensation - A mandatory "no-fault" insurance program, paid for by employers, to cover employees who suffer a work-related illness or injury.
  • workweek - Any seven consecutive 24-hour periods, starting on the same calendar day and at the same time each week.
  • work permit - The document issued for a minor that allows the minor to work.
  • Back to top