When you need time to care for yourself or for your loved ones, you can’t always work at the same time. Big life events happen that are both planned and unplanned. When they do, you need to be able to tend to those events and the people you love without fear of losing your job. Eligible employees have the right to take leave in certain situations so they can give themselves or their family proper attention in a time of need. The Family and Medical Leave Act, also known as FMLA, is a federal labor law that allows eligible employees to take an unpaid, job-protected leave of absence from work for familial or medical reasons.
Which Employees Are Covered By FMLA?
First, employees need to work for a covered employer. Typically, employers with over 50 employees are covered, but private employers with less than 50 employees are not. If you are a covered employee, there are additional requirements you need to meet as well. Eligible employees may take up to 12 work weeks in a 12-month period if they meet the following criteria:
- They’ve worked for their company for at least 12 months. (They do not have to be consecutive months.)
- They’ve worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 month period.
- They have to work at a location where an employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite.
What Can I Use My Leave For?
Serious Health Conditions
If an employee has a serious health condition that leaves the employee unable to perform the essential functions of their job, or their spouse, child or parent has a serious health condition that requires their care, employees can use their leave.
Leave can also be used for the birth or care of a child one year of age or less, as well as for the placement of an adopted or foster child in order to care for the child within one year of placement.
Employees can take leave for any qualifying exigency due to the fact that an employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is an active member of the military.
They are also allowed 26 work-weeks of leave during a 12-month period to care for a covered service member who is severely ill or injured and also their spouse, son or daughter, or parent. (Leave can be taken all at once or in increments.)
Applying For FMLA
When you need to take your leave, it is important you give your employer proper notice. While employers cannot legally deny eligible employees FMLA, you do have to follow their guideline and protocols for notification of leave, unless it is an emergency.
If your leave is related to a medical condition, extensive diagnosis or private information is not required, but you will have to inform your employee that your leave is protected by the FMLA.
When you are eligible for FMLA, your employer is required to provide the following series of notices:
- General Notice
- Eligibility Notice
- Rights & Responsibilities Notice
- Designation Notice
It is legal for your employer to require you to update them on your status while you are on leave.
On the U.S. Department of Labor’s website you can find general guidance, fact sheets, forms, laws & regulations, and other resources related to FMLA.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Family And Medical Leave Act
- “Do I still get health insurance while I’m on leave?”
Yes! When you take your leave, your employer is required to allow health insurance to continue. However, if your benefits come out of your paycheck, you may still be required to pay for them while on leave.
- “Will my job be waiting for me when I get back?”
Yes! As long as you return to work when your 12 weeks of leave have been used up, your employer is required to let you return to the same job you were doing when you left.
- “Can I use my sick time while on leave?”
Yes! If you have sick time or even PTO that you want to use so you are still getting paid while on leave, that is completely up to you!
California Family Rights Act
The state of California also has a leave law called the California Family Rights Act. It addition to FMLA, it also guarantees California employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period. Employers require a 30-day notice of this leave for foreseeable events. CFRA has the same eligibility criteria as well as follows the same guidelines for the usage of leave. In January of 2022, California also added parents-in-law to the list of people an employee can take leave to care for.
What Do I Do If My Employer Denies My Rights Under FMLA?
If you’re an eligible employee that has followed all of the necessary steps for leave and feel that your protected rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act have been violated, you could file a complaint with your local Wage & Hour Division, but complaints can take weeks, months or more to resolve. It is illegal for your employer to deny FMLA. At Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C., our employment lawyers can hold your unlawful employer accountable and help pursue compensation on your behalf!
Don’t wait to contact our employment lawyers, as any claims of violation must be made within 2 years of the date they occured. Call today to schedule a free, confidential consultation where we will evaluate your claims, explain your legal options and answer any questions you may have, so that you can feel confident moving forward with one of our attorneys. Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C. takes pride in our knowledge and experience with employment law and is equipped to handle your legal concerns with FMLA. Call now!
Why Choose Our Firm?
Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C. has over 60 years of combined experience helping employees who’ve been wronged get justice! We are ranked in the top 10% of California law firms, and are a multilingual firm. Let us guide you in making strategic legal choices so we can help you reach the best possible outcome!