Protected Leaves of Absence in California
Are You Eligible for A Medical leave of Absence?
There are certain circumstances that are beyond our control that may result in leaving work for an extended amount of time.
Both federal and state laws guarantee a leave of absence to employees, and it is the responsibility of employers to reinstate them to a job of similar standing and pay upon their return to work. It's important to understand your rights to a leave of absence from work as an employee in California.
In California, according to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, eligible employees are allowed up to 12 weeks per year of paid or unpaid leave from work for specific medical reasons.
The California Family Rights Act provides similar leave protections, and other state laws provides additional protections for:
- Pregnant workers
- New parents
- Military families
- And domestic violence victims
Who is Eligible for a Protected Leave of Absence?
There are qualifications for being eligible for a medical or family leave of absence under the FMLA.
An employee is qualified for medical leave if:
- The employee has been working for the employer for at least 12 months on the date their leave is set to start
- The employee has worked at least 1,250 hours during the past 12-month period before the date their leave is set to start
- The employer has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) differs in that it does not have the 75-mile radius requirement for employees.
What Are Acceptable Reasons for Leave of Absence?
Not all medical situations are applicable or covered by the FMLA.
Acceptable reasons for medical leave include the following:
- Being unable to work due to serious health issues, including pregnancy complications
- To care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
- The birth of a child, or adoption or foster care placement of child
The FMLA defines immediate family members as:
- A child
- A parent
- Or spouse of the employee
The CFRA extends this definition to include domestic partners and parents-in-law.
Is Your Employer Violating Your Rights Under the FMLA?
Many employers fail to understand the law in regard to employee medical leaves of absence. If you have correctly followed the conditions of your leave by providing proper notice or you are facing an urgent situation, your rights should be protected.
Examples of FMLA Violations include:
- Failure to allow a protected leave of absence
- Failure to recognize serious health conditions that qualify for FMLA leave
- Failure to properly inform workers of their rights
- Failure to reinstate equivalent employment or benefits upon return to work
- Counting FMLA absences against an employee and disciplining the employee as a result
- Having unreasonable requirements for notice of FMLA leave
- Harassing employees taking a protected leave of absence to pressure them to return sooner
- Pregnancy discrimination involving maternity leave
- Wrongful termination during or following a leave of absence
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