What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?
Los Angeles Employment and FMLA Lawyers Explain Possible Violations
It is comforting to be able to go on leave from a busy job when a close family member is unwell. The federal government has the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which gives employees the right to take leave on account of their own medical problems or those of a family member. When doing so, the employer protects the employee’s right to return to his/her job or position of equal pay and benefits when the leave is over. California also enacted the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), which is part of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). It gives employees similar family leave rights as the FMLA. However, the differences between these laws are important to workers dealing with health issues.
How Does FMLA Work? How Do You Determine Eligibility for FMLA?
Both the CFRA and the FMLA cover all public agencies and private companies that employ 50 or more employees for 20 workweeks or more a year. Employees may take medical leave for themselves or to take care of their family members if they meet the following FMLA requirements:
- The company must employ at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the location where the employee who wants to take leave works.
- The employee worked for at least 1,250 hours within the past 12 months before the leave start date, or about 24 hours a week.
- The employee should have been employed with that particular employer for at least 12 months. Additionally, the employee did not have to work this time consecutively unless the break in employment was longer than seven years.
If a worker is eligible for family medical leave, that employee can take up to 12 workweeks in a 12-month period of unpaid leave. Employees may also take intermittent FMLA leave or work reduced schedules if their employer agrees under certain circumstances. Do you qualify for FMLA leave under these circumstances? If you do qualify and your employer denies your request, we may be able to help. Call now at (310)273-3180 to schedule a free consultation with our Los Angeles employment law firm.
For What Reasons Can You Use FMLA?
Workers may take a period of leave under the Family Medical Leave Act for reasons covered by FMLA. Some employers may require you to use your paid time off before using, or to cover some of, the FMLA leave. Common qualifying conditions protected by family medical leave laws include:
Under the Act, an employee may take leave for the following family members: spouses, parents and children. However, children under the age of 18 who work are not eligible for leave to take care of their parents. Parents who work also cannot take leave to take care of children who are above 18 years of age.
Care for children
Working parents, including the father, are eligible for leave on arrival of a new child. This includes childbirth, adoption of a child or even taking a child into foster care. Some employers may count unpaid FMLA leave as a portion of maternity leave or paternity leave. This can be in addition to workers using personal days or short-term disability.
Pregnancy Disability Leave in California
An important distinction between the FMLA and the CFRA is that the CFRA does not provide leave for pregnancy disability, which may allow for leave prior to childbirth. However, under the FEHA, employees disabled by their pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to it may be eligible to take up to four months of Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) if they meet certain requirements.
Talk to our attorneys if you need help determining which employment laws apply to your situation, or if your employer is unlawfully denying you family medical leave.
Is FMLA Paid or Unpaid Leave?
Generally, an employee is not eligible for pay during family care leave. However, if the employee accrued vacation, the employee can use it as pay during the period of family leave. If the employee has taken leave on account of his or her own illness, then sick pay can be used as pay during the period of leave. However, sick pay cannot be utilized to pay an employee if he or she has taken leave to take care of a family member.
Other laws, such as the California Paid Family Leave/Family Temporary Disability Insurance program from the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program, may offer up to six week of partial wages for employees with new children (through childbirth, adoption or foster) and to care of sick family members. California is one of the only states in the nation to have this program.
Do I Get Health Insurance While on FMLA?
During leave under the FMLA act, employers must maintain any group health plan for which the employee is already a member. This includes health insurance, disability insurance or any other such benefit. Companies who fail to continue insurance or cut off insurance coverage without giving adequate notice to an employee on family medical leave may be in violation.
Can an Employer Require Proof for FMLA?
If an employee reasonably anticipates needing to take family medical leave, he or she should give notice to the employer. To do so, the employee should give the employer a doctor’s note. This note should detail details the date of commencement of the illness as well the estimated duration of the illness.
If the leave is due to employee’s own illness, the doctor should also certify that the employee would be unable to perform his or her job. If the leave is for the care of a family member, then the doctor should certify the nature of the illness and also the fact that such member requires the help of the employee.
Differences Between FEHA and FMLA
Employees in California can receive family medical leave under both the federal law as well as California family leave. However, an employee cannot seek benefits under both the FMLA and CFRA. That means that these leaves must run concurrently and not back to back. The employee cannot take 12 weeks leave under FMLA and a further 12 weeks of leave under California legislation.
Employers have obligations under California’s FEHA to workers who used all their unpaid FMLA and CFRA leave. An employer cannot terminate an employee if he/she exhausts leave time and is still unable to return to work because he/she needs more time to recover. All employers must provide reasonable accommodations to workers in this situation if it would not cause undue hardship. This may mean granting more unpaid family leave time or having employees return to work with restrictions.
Have a Family Medical Leave Claim Against Your Employer? Ask FMLA Lawyers
Your employer cannot deny your right to take leave if you are entitled to it. Employees in California can also take advantage of a state legislation. It may offer better rights in contrast to its federal counterpart. If you would like more information about the FMLA, please contact our Los Angeles employment attorney.