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CA & Federal Laws Relating to Employee Medical Leave

Various state and federal laws ensure an employee’s right to fair treatment and pay. One quickly evolving area of California employment law relates to medical and family leave. Employees should be aware of medical and family leave laws and the extent to which they apply to a given employment situation.

FMLA and your rights as an employee

Federal law, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with fifty or more employees to provide certain employees with flexible leave options. This leave includes allowing up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave per year to recuperate from a serious health condition, to take care of a family member with a serious health condition, to care for a new child, or to handle certain situations arising from a family member’s military service.

Additionally, employees may take up to twenty-six weeks of unpaid leave if caring for a family member who was seriously injured in the course of military duties. During this qualified leave time period, the employee also remains eligible to any employment benefits he or she was receiving beforehand. An employee is eligible to take FMLA leave in California if he or she:

  • has been with the employer for at least a year,
  • has worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year, and
  • works at a location with at least fifty employees in a seventy-five mile radius.
California Family Rights Act

In addition to federal laws, California has several medical and family leave laws that provide additional protections to California employees. The California Family Rights Act allows employees who work for an employer with fifty or more employees to take up to twelve weeks of leave within a twelve-month period. California law varies slightly from the FMLA in that it provides for leave not only in the situation of an employee or employee’s family member’s serious illness and birth of a child, but also explicitly allows for leave for adoption or foster placement of a child. Additionally, California law addresses same-sex couples and allows same-sex spouses, domestic partners, and the children of domestic partners to qualify as “family members” under state law.

Employee leave of absence policies

California also has a number of other laws that allow employees to take a leave of absence. For example, California law allows employees to take unpaid leave in order to seek a restraining order in a situation of domestic violence against the employee or the employee’s child. Additionally, California employers with twenty-five or more employees must allow employees who are victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault to take time off to obtain services from a rape crisis center or counseling center, plan to relocate for safety, or to obtain medical treatment.

Because a number of state and federal laws apply to medical and family leave, it is advisable to seek the advice of an experienced employment law attorney in Orange County to find out which laws and protections apply to you in a particular situation. Contact Hardin & Associates today for more information.