Family and Medical Leave Rights in California

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal act that all states must follow, including California. In addition to the FMLA, California has its own set of state-level rules and regulations employers must adhere to when determining who gets to use medical leave and why. Despite the broad coverage provided to most employees in the state, most California residents will admit to not understanding their own rights and run the risk of being exploited by dishonest employers.

If you are also concerned that your rights to take family or medical leave are being violated, refer to this useful “frequently asked questions” compiled by Markson Pico LLP. If you know that you need legal help, you can contact our Santa Clarita employment law attorneys to schedule a free case evaluation.

Family & Medical Leave Rights FAQ

  1. How many weeks of medical leave does the average California employee receive?
    Most California residents covered by the FMLA will receive 12 weeks of medical leave. Family leave, such as what is necessary after a child is born or a family member leaves for the military, also shares these same 12 weeks. Some people require leave to give care to an injured family member who was in the military may qualify for 26 weeks.
  2. Who is covered by the FMLA in California?
    Employees can qualify for medical leave granted by the FMLA if they have been employed by one company for a year or more, if that year of employment included 1,250 hours or more of scheduled labor, and if they work with at least 50 other employees within a 75-air-mile radius. Due to the last requirement, employees working at small businesses may not have FMLA coverage.
  3. What is a serious health condition, according to the FMLA?
    Employees cannot use medical leave for any injury or illness. They must experience a health condition that is deemed “serious.” The FMLA considers serious health problems those that involve inpatient care, incapacitate a person for three or more continuous days, are deemed chronic by a doctor’s diagnosis, create a permanent incapacity of any sort, or will require multiple follow-up procedures. Pregnancy is also considered a “serious” condition.
  4. I used all 12 weeks of my medical leave – do I ever get more?
    Every 12-month cycle, an employee regains another 12 weeks of medical leave, so long as they continue to meet all the coverage requirements.
  5. Do I lose my health insurance when on medical leave?
    No. You are entitled to keep your same health insurance at the same cost while you are on approved medical leave.
  6. Will I be paid while on medical leave?
    Most employees will not gain paid medical leave through the FMLA. If you have paid leave from another program provided by your employer, you may be able to use it, or will be required to use it, while you are on medical leave.
  7. Can my employer eliminate my position while I am on leave?
    When you are ready to return from your medical leave, you have the right to be placed back into the same position, or one of similar roles and identical pay. There are limited exceptions to this rule, so be sure to check with an employment lawyer if you have concerns about replacement.
  8. Doesn’t California have unique rules for pregnancy leave?
    Yes. In California, employers with at least five employees need to give a “reasonable” period of leave for employees disabled by a recent pregnancy, childbirth, or postnatal care. A reasonable period is open to some interpretation but it cannot extend beyond four months.
  9. What is California’s small necessities law?
    Any employer with 25 or more employees in California are bound by the state-level small necessities law, which states that 40 hours of unpaid leave are granted each year specifically for activities related to schooling or day care, such as teacher-parent conferences. No more than eight hours must be granted in a single month for this type of leave, though.
  10. Can I get in trouble for taking my medical leave?
    No, employers are not permitted to retaliate or penalize an employee just for taking medical leave, as these are rights granted by federal and state law. You also cannot be denied your right to take medical leave without proper explanation.

Remember: If you have additional questions or concerns, you can always reach out to our employment law attorneys in Santa Clarita by calling 213.895.4000.

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