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When an employee gets sick, has a baby, or has a family member who is ill, one of the individual’s first thoughts may be how to take time off work. Many employers frown upon too many days missed or in serious cases, terminate employees for too many days off from work.

Fortunately, both federal and California law give employees the right to take time off from work in certain situations, and the employer must allow the individual to return to work in those cases. The federal law that gives leave from work is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the California law is the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The laws only apply to covered employers, which generally means employers with 50 or more employees, although there are some exceptions for other types of employers.

Under FMLA/CFRA, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave (and must retain benefits during that period) during a 12 month period, for the following reasons: the birth or adoption or foster care placement of a child, to care for an immediate family member with a serious health problem, or if the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition. In order to be eligible for the leave, an employee must have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months on the date the leave is to start, and must have worked for at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 month period.

If an employee takes advantage of FMLA/CFRA leave, the employee is entitled to be restored to the same position with the company upon returning, or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits and terms of employment. In addition, the employer is required to continue providing employment benefits during the medical leave, although the employee may be required to pay for those benefits.

There are specific rules that apply to each reason for taking leave from work. If a person is leaving work because of the birth or adoption of a child, either a father or a mother can take the leave, but if both work for the same employer, the employer may limit the parents to a total of 12 weeks off between the two of them. If the leave is to care for a family member, under the FMLA/CFRA, that family member must be a child, parent or spouse.

Under the FMLA/CFRA, you are not required to be paid for the time off. Also, the employer may ask that you take paid time first before using the required leave. If the leave is for the employee’s serious health condition, an employer may require or an employee may elect to use accrued sick leave.

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes all employees should be allowed to take leave from their jobs because of medical issues, pregnancy or adoption, and the serious medical problems of a family member. If you are in the San Francisco area, and you have been denied medical leave to which you are entitled, or if you believe you have been fired or demoted for taking FMLA/CFRA leave, and you are in the Oakland – San Francisco area, including Santa Clara County, Alameda County, San Mateo County, Marin County or Contra Costa County, call her today at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. You may be entitled to have your job restored or to compensation.



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