Legal Leaves of Absence
California has some of the most employee-friendly labor laws in the country; California employees have many rights. Employment laws include giving employees the time off they need to take care of their personal needs, healthcare, and family needs.
State and federal law provide for paid time and sick leave. The laws also provide for other types of leave. Employers who retaliate against an employee for taking a legal leave of absence can be fined and face civil damages.
The first step in protecting your rights is understanding the laws governing legal leaves of absence in California. Below is a discussion of some of those laws.
FMLA – The Family and Medical Leave Act
The FMLA is federal law. It provides job protection for eligible employees who need to take time off from work for covered medical and family needs. The law provides an employee job protection for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period.
The employee may not need to take all 12 weeks of time off at the same time. In addition, some employees may be able to reduce their work hours instead of taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
An employee may take unpaid leave for reasons related to:
- A worker’s severe health condition that prevents the employee from performing job duties
- The birth of the employee’s child
- A foster child’s placement in the employee’s home
- The adoption of a child
- A qualifying need related to the employee’s spouse, parent, or child being on active military duty
- Caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
Serious health conditions include mental and physical injuries, illnesses, and impairments that require continued treatment or inpatient health care. Employees must meet the requirements of the FLMA to take protected leave from employment.
USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
According to the Department of Labor, the USERRA protects our service members by limiting an employer’s right to terminate an employee for a leave of absence to serve in the armed forces.
The Act prohibits an employer from firing an employee for a reason other than cause, where that employee left work to serve at least 180 days or more for one year after returning to work. If the employee served at least 30 days but less than 180 days, the protection period is 180 days after reemployment.
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
The CRFA is very similar to the FMLA. Employers are required by law to provide California employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave benefits to:
- Care for themselves if they have a serious health condition
- Bond with a new child
- Care for a family member with a serious health condition
That Act covers many of the private employers in California. The employer must have at least 50 or more full or part-time employees. An employee must have worked for the employer for a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months before taking a covered leave of absence.
Pregnancy Disability Leave
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides pregnancy disability leave (PDL) for an employee disabled because of childbirth, pregnancy, or a related medication condition. The requirement applies to employers with five or more employees. The law applies to both full and part-time employees without requiring a specific number of hours or tenure to qualify for the leave.
An employee may be entitled to PDL for up to four months per pregnancy. However, if an employer provides more than four months of leave for other temporary disabilities, the employer must provide the same time for PDL.
PDL is unpaid protected leave time away from work. However, employees can usually qualify for up to ten weeks of state disability insurance and six weeks of Paid Family Leave after the state disability benefits are exhausted.
New Parent Leave Act
California’s New Parent Leave Act requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of protected, unpaid leave to bond with a new child. The Act covers a biological child, an adopted child, and a foster child.
The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before taking leave. The Act applies to employers with 20 or more employees.
Other Types of Protected Leave of Absence in California
California laws provide for other types of protected leave. Examples of protected leave include, but are not limited to:
- Jury duty
- Military duty
- Witnesses in a civil or criminal case
- Treatment for alcohol or drug addiction
- Victims of stalking, domestic violence, and sexual assault
- Volunteer firefighters, emergency rescue personnel, and reserve police officers
The laws protecting leave vary, including the conditions and requirements to qualify for protected leave from work. Before taking a leave of absence, ensure you understand how the law applies to your case. Seek legal advice from experienced employment attorneys.
What Should I Do If My Employer Violates Protections for Leaves of Absence From Work?
Contact our San Diego employment attorney immediately.
Each of the various laws has deadlines and procedures for filing claims and lawsuits. In some cases, you must file a claim with the correct government agency before proceeding with a civil lawsuit. In addition, you must follow the specific rules of the law that applies to your leave to recover compensation for damages.
The compensation and damages you receive will hinge on the facts of your case and the law applicable to your situation. In some cases, you could be reinstated if your employer wrongfully terminated you because they retaliated against you for taking a protected leave of absence. You might receive compensation for loss of income, benefits, and other damage caused by the employer’s actions.
It is wise to document your request and your employer’s response and actions whenever you request a protected leave of absence. Make copies of all employee handbooks, memos, and documents related to requests for time off work or a leave of absence.
Follow your employer’s policy for requesting time off and keep copies of all communications with your employer. Make notes of the date and time of each communication and note whether anyone witnessed the communication.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our San Diego Employment Lawyer
State and federal laws provide for legal leaves of absence from work. However, if your employer violates the law or retaliates against you, we want to help. Call our office today at (619) 693-7727. to schedule a free consultation with an experienced San Diego accommodations and leaves lawyer.