As part of your regular employment, your employer may provide you paid time off, sick days, vacation time, and other ways you can leave work with an acceptable excuse. However, California employment law allows you to excuse yourself from work for specific reasons, regardless of whatever time-off policy your employer may use. This is known as a protected leave of absence – or LOA – as described under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
What Employees are Eligible for FMLA Leaves of Absence?
If your employer has at least 50 employees, the FMLA and the LOAs it describes applies to their business. Employees become eligible once they have worked 12 months or 1,250 hours for the employer, whichever comes first. Most employees must also live within 75 miles of the employer’s headquarters or a brick-and-mortar location to be eligible.
What Protected Leaves of Absences Does California Recognize?
California is known throughout the nation as being one of the most progressive and lenient states. It follows this trend in how it interprets protects LOAs, too. To this end, there are more legally recognized and protected reasons for requesting a leave in California than most other states.
You can take a LOA if you need to:
- Care for a spouse, parent, or child who is severely ill
- Recover from your own serious injury or illness
- Spend time with your newborn
- Resolve nonmedical issues related to a family member in the military
- Care for an immediate family member who became seriously injured or ill due to military service
- Take care of yourself due to pregnancy or childbirth complications
- Attend school activities of your child
- Care for yourself after a domestic violence incident
Most protected leaves of absence give you 12 weeks to handle your affairs or recuperate. Some can be extended up to 26 weeks, though, such as caring for an injured military service member in your family. However, some LOAs are much shorter, such as you may receive only up to 40 hours a year for school-related activities.
Benefits of Leaves of Absences
If your leave of absence is approved, you will unlock a variety of benefits, which vary depending on the purpose, extent, and type of LOA you are using. In some situations, you may be able to continue to collect a portion of your regular pay while you are on LOA. Whether you are paid or not, your LOA should protect you from termination while on leave simply for being on leave.
For more information about leaves of absences in California and your rights to take them, be sure to visit our blog next week on September 17th, when we will post part 2 of this 2-part mini-series. You can also call Marder Employment Law at (888) 796-4010.