What Is the California Family Medical Leave Act?

family medical leave act

We spend a lot of time at work.

But what happens when your personal life demands more of your time than work allows you to give?

You can apply for leave and job protection with the Family and Medical Leave Act in California.

Requests for personal leave can be fraught with technicalities, but the experienced attorneys at Starpoint Employment Law can protect your rights. 

How the Family and Medical Leave Act in California Helps 

There are two laws you can use to safely take leave from work for serious personal matters: the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

So how does FMLA work in California? And how does CFRA work in California? Both laws allow you to take 12 weeks off from work per year for serious personal matters. 

Also, the FMLA allows you to take 26 weeks off in a year to help certain family members in the military with serious conditions. 

Under both the FMLA and CFRA, your employer must reinstate you to your job (or a comparable job) when you return from leave (with some exceptions).

Your employer must also maintain your health benefits and seniority while you are on leave. 

Taking FMLA leave in California can ease the stressors in your life when pressing personal matters need your attention. 

Who Can Apply for Leave?

The FMLA and CFRA have multiple and differing eligibility requirements. Let’s look at each law’s requirements separately. 

FMLA Eligibility

Under the FMLA, you can take protected leave for:

  • The birth of a child;
  • Rearing a child during their first year after birth;
  • Welcoming an adopted or foster child into your home during the first year of placement;
  • Caring for a child, parent, or spouse with a serious health condition;
  • Responding to urgent, military-related needs of a spouse, child, or parent who is on “covered active duty”;
  • Addressing your own serious health condition; and
  • Addressing the serious health needs of a spouse, child, parent, or next of kin who is a service member. 

The FMLA defines a “serious health condition” as a physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment. 

To apply, you must have worked for your employer for at least one year and worked at least 1,250 hours.

Also, your employer must have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. 

CFRA Eligibility 

Under the CFRA, you can take protected leave to:

  • Bond with a new biological, adopted, foster, or stepchild;
  • Take care of a family member with a serious health condition;
  • Address your own serious health condition; and
  • Help with a family member’s military deployment to a foreign country.

The CFRA defines serious health conditions the same way the FMLA does, but the CFRA allows you to take leave to help more kinds of seriously ill family members than the FMLA does.

Under the CFRA, seriously ill family includes domestic partners, stepchildren, legal wards, children of domestic partners, parents-in-law, step-parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and legal guardians.  

To apply, you must have worked for your employer for at least one year and worked at least 1,250 hours.

Also, your employer must have at least five (5) employees to be liable.

How to Apply for FMLA in California

Employees seeking job protection under the FMLA or CFRA need to give their employers at least 30 days’ notice.

If you are taking leave for your own serious health condition, your employer can ask you for medical certification, so be prepared with paperwork. 

Is FMLA Paid in California?

Neither the CFRA nor FMLA require your employer to pay you during leave. But you could be eligible to receive payment through sick days, paid leave, or your employer’s disability insurance. 

We Are Here to Help

At Starpoint Employment Law, we fight hard for our clients’ rights, and our experienced attorneys always keep our clients up to speed by being available to answer any questions.

We are here to serve Southern California with our legal expertise. Call us at 310-424-9971 or contact us online for help.

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury and employment law cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.

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