Leaves of Absence Laws
There are laws at both the federal and state level that ensure employees are treated fairly and given appropriate time off if necessary. In fact, California is one of the states that offer the strongest protections for employees. California workers have many “leaves of absence” rights rooted in different statutes. Some of the most important include:
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
This critical federal law applies to all employers with more than 50 employees. It requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of time off to deal with medical needs. You generally must work for the company for a set period of time (12 months) before the rights accrue. This time off can be used to care for oneself, a child, spouse, or parent Also, the law allows for time off to bond with new children. The rule requires employers to not retaliate against the employee for taking this time off and demands that employers maintain the position for the worker upon their return. Special rights also exist for servicemembers and their family.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA applies to all employers with at least 15 employees. The law requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” for those with disabilities who are qualified for work. One of those accommodations may be a reasonable leave of absence to deal with aspects of the disability.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
This federal law applies to locations with at least 15 employees and requires employers to treat pregnant workers the same as other employees with a disabling condition. That includes providing the same leave of absence protections.
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
The CFRA is the most important important state law that protects employees who need to take time off from work. On one hand, the law mirrors the federal FMLA in requiring certain employers to provide 12 weeks of time off to deal with medical ailments. There are some complex issues related to how the CFRA and FMLA interact, particularly whether time off runs “concurrently” under each. A California law attorney can provide more specific information in your case about how much time off you are legally obligated to take to deal with your medical ailment, pregnancy or other matter.
In general, if you qualify for time off, then your employer must provide you with the same or similar work position upon your return. In addition, they cannot retaliate against you in other ways or otherwise try to influence you from exercising your rights. Importantly, the law only requires unpaid time off. However, employees retain the right to use paid vacation time, sick leave, or other options they may have.
An important aspect of leave of absence issues is often determining whether one’s medical situation triggers the protection. For example, under the FMLA a “serious health condition” usually refers to matters that require continuous health care treatment. Any illness that does not allow one to work, lasts more than three days, and requires multiple doctor visit within a month would usually qualify as a serious health condition for purposes of the law.
What To Do If Your Rights are Violated?
No one expects to be mistreated by an employer, and so many do not know what to do when their rights are not respected. For one thing, you may not even be sure what your rights are and whether any laws were broken.
The best plan is always to start by speaking with your boss and human resource professional about your concerns. Be very clear about your position and listen genuinely to their response. Sometimes simply stating your case will cause the employer to change their mind--allowing you proper time off and protecting your position.
Throughout this process, it is important to maintain records and documents of the situation. This includes records related to your requests, medical documents explaining your situation, details about conversations with your employer, and similar matters. Your attorney will likely need this information later on if the matter progresses without a resolution.
Pershing Square Law Firm Can Help
The California employment law professionals at Pershing Square Law are proud to stand up for the rights of employees throughout the state. No one should have to worry about losing their job or facing retaliation because they need to take reasonable time off work to handle life events. If you believe that your employer may have violated these laws, consider reaching out to a legal professional at our office to fight for your rights.
Our attorneys at Pershing Square Law Firm will listen to your situation and explain how the state and federal rules regarding leaves of absence may apply in your care. We can then create legal strategies to determine the most appropriate course of action. Throughout the process we are committed to maintaining open and honest lines of communication so that you always know where your case stands. Click here to get started.