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Paid Family Leave FAQ

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These questions and answers are designed to give you a summary of some of the plan’s highlights. For a complete description of your benefits, please refer to the VDI Statement of Coverage. If there are any differences between this information and the plan documents, the plan documents will govern.

What is Paid Family Leave (PFL)?

PFL at Stanford provides temporary partial or full income replacement to eligible employees who take approved time off to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child. Family members eligible for family care include a seriously ill child, parent, spouse, registered partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling or parent-in-law. You may take up to eight weeks of PFL in a rolling 12-month period, and it may be used continuously or intermittently, usually in periods of two weeks or more.

How does PFL work?

During an approved leave, you would receive a weekly check from disability insurance equal to 60% or 70% (depending on income) of your current base pay, up to the weekly maximum. The weekly maximum amount may change each year on Jan. 1. For the most current rate, visit Cardinal at Work. Employees outside of the state of California are covered by a separate short-term disability plan paid by Stanford, and its benefits mirror VDI/SDI.

In addition to pay from disability insurance, Stanford provides benefits-eligible employees supplemental pay to maintain their base pay for the first six weeks of PFL. The benefit runs concurrent with any approved benefit, meaning that you receive weekly disability pay and your regularly scheduled paycheck from Stanford without having to use accrued paid time off. Together, the disability benefit and supplement will not exceed 100% of base pay as calculated on the last day worked before the leave. For weeks 7-8, benefits-eligible employees may use accrued PTO, floating holiday and vacation hours to augment the insurance benefit. Non-benefits-eligible employees may use accrued PTO, floating holiday and vacation hours to augment the insurance benefit for the entire eight weeks of PFL.

What happens if I live outside the state of California?

Non-California employees who meet the requirements for PFL but live in a state that doesn’t provide paid family leave benefits will receive six weeks of pay at 100% from Stanford and may use accrued PTO, floating holiday and vacation hours during weeks 7-8 to augment insurance benefits. In the few states that offer paid family leave, Stanford follows the state-specific rules for disability pay and length of leave allowed.

Where can I learn more about disability insurance benefits?

Employers are required to provide a VDI Statement of Coverage to all new hires. PFL information can be found on the Family Care Leave section of the Cardinal at Work website.

Do I pay for PFL?

Yes, if you live in California, Stanford is required to deduct a small percentage from your wages if you are covered under Stanford’s VDI or California’s SDI program. The amount deducted changes each year and can be found in the VDI Statement of Coverage. Paid family leave benefits are a component of VDI/SDI and contributions are mandatory under the California Unemployment Insurance Code. You may not opt out or decline payroll deductions.

How long can I receive PFL benefits?

You may receive up to eight weeks of PFL disability insurance benefits in a rolling 12-month period when you take an approved leave to care for a qualified family member. Note that Stanford’s supplement to help you maintain your base pay is only for the first six weeks, though for weeks 7-8 you have the option to use accrued PTO, floating holiday and vacation hours to augment the insurance benefit.

How is the 12-month period defined?

The 12-month period begins from the date you provide a medical certificate regarding a care claim for the seriously ill family member. Or, for bonding leave, the 12-month period begins from the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a new child with your family.

Example: An employee files a claim for PFL that begins on July 15, 2020. The 12-month period is July 15, 2020, to July 14, 2021.

When should I file a claim?

You should file a claim no later than 30 days from the first day of absence.

How do I file a claim for PFL?

Start a claim with Stanford’s disability administrator, AbsenceOne, through their secure portal (click on My Leaves through Axess or Cardinal at Work) or by phone (866-566-1906).

How is PFL different from Stanford’s VDI or short-term disability benefits?

VDI or short-term disability compensates you when you suffer wage loss when you cannot work because of your own illness or injury. PFL compensates you when you suffer wage loss due to the need to provide care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child.

What is the relationship between PFL and Family Medical Leave (FMLA)?

FMLA provides eligible employees up to 12 work weeks of job-protected leave in a 12-month period for their own serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or because of the birth or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care. FMLA is unpaid.

PFL provides up to eight weeks of wage replacement to eligible employees who suffer wage loss when they take time off work to care for a family member. PFL does not change FMLA in any way and is completely separate from it.

For more information about Stanford’s policy on pregnancy leave, short-term disability leave, or FMLA, see the Stanford Administrative Guide (AGM 2.3.5 Disability and Family Leaves) . Additional information related to FMLA is on the Department of Labor’s website. For additional information about the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), contact the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Are employees required to take FMLA at the same time they are receiving PFL?

Yes. If an employee is eligible for FMLA, Stanford will designate the leave as such.

When do PFL payments begin?

Benefits are payable on the first day of leave.

Is my job protected if I take PFL?

PFL does not offer job protection; it is wage replacement during your leave. Approved FMLA provides job-protection and may run concurrent with your PFL.

If I am not yet eligible for FMLA, can I apply for PFL?

Yes, provided you have been granted time away by your department and meet the eligibility requirements for PFL.

Who is eligible for PFL?

Any employee who has earned at least $300 in salary and who has had VDI/SDI withholdings from their Stanford paycheck could be eligible.

As a new employee am I eligible for PFL?

Yes, but your benefit may be subject to a pre-existing condition clause and limited to the state SDI minimum rate. Please refer to the VDI Statement of Coverage.

Am I required to take all of my PFL at one time?

No. PFL can be taken intermittently, usually in increments of two weeks or more at a time.

Am I eligible for PFL if I have to provide care for a qualifying relative out-of-state or out-of-the-country?

Yes. You can file a claim for PFL to care for a qualifying relative who is in another state or country. Benefits may be payable provided the medical certificate that is provided to Stanford’s disability administrator or the State establishes a need for care.

Can I receive PFL benefits while collecting other wage replacement?

No. You may not receive PFL benefits if you are also eligible for, or already receiving VDI/SDI, Unemployment Compensation Insurance, or Workers’ Compensation (if Workers’ Compensation benefits are equal to or greater than the PFL benefits).

If I receive PFL benefits, what happens to the Stanford retirement savings contributions?

There are no retirement contributions on PFL benefits. If you receive a salary supplement from Stanford, a retirement contribution will continue to be made based on wages paid by the university through your regularly scheduled (reduced) paycheck.

What happens to my other benefits deductions and contributions while I am on PFL?

If you take an approved leave of absence, the university contributions for health and life benefits will continue. There is no university contribution when an employee is on a personal leave of absence. However, if you are not receiving a Stanford paycheck, your contributions to your health and life benefits may need to be direct billed.

Can I continue to receive PFL benefits if I terminate employment?

Yes. As long as your claim has been filed and accepted by Stanford’s disability administrator before the date of termination from the university payroll.