If an employee needs to take time off from work to care for himself or herself or for a family member, various federal and California state law may allow the employee to take unpaid, job-protected leave under certain circumstances. There are numerous laws that may apply when it comes to leaves of absence in San Francisco Bay Area workplaces. Our San Francisco Bay Area leave of absence attorneys can discuss your situation with you today.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides covered employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period. Once the 12-month period resets, the employee may again be eligible for that job-protected leave time under the FMLA. However, an employer need only provide an employee with FMLA leave if the employer employees 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the employee’s worksite.
FMLA leave can only be used in certain situations, including the following:
Under the FMLA, a pregnancy-related disability can qualify as a serious health condition that allows an employee to request FMLA leave.
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides similar protections as the FMLA, with a few differences. Like the FMLA, the CFRA allows covered employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. FMLA and CFRA leave generally run concurrently. However, one key difference is that CFRA does not cover pregnancy-related disability. Instead, there is a separate California state law to handle pregnancy-related disabilities and the need for leave time. This means that an employee who has taken leave for a pregnancy-related disability may still have CFRA leave available to use for baby bonding, even if that employee has exhausted her FMLA leave. Also, CFRA’s requirement that employers provide baby bonding leave applies to employer’s with 20 or more employees within a 75 mile radius, rather than to employers with 50 employees, as is required for all other CFRA-covered leaves.
California employees are eligible for Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) if their employer has at least five employees. As such, more employees in California are covered by PDL than by the CFRA or the FMLA.
With PDL, an employee can request up to four months of leave, and that leave does not need to be taken all at once.
Unless an employer specifically has provisions for providing a paid leave of absence, the leaves of absence under federal and state law discussed above generally are unpaid. This means that the employee’s job must be protected (meaning that the employee has the right to return to his or her job), but the employee does not have to be paid for the time off.
However, under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, employees in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the state of California may be entitled to paid sick leave. Also, employees who need a leave of absence for their own serious health condition may qualify for state disability benefits. You should discuss these and other options with a San Francisco Bay Area employment law attorney if you have questions or concerns.
In addition to the laws listed above, there may be other federal and state laws that allow an employee to take job-protected leave. If you have questions about leaves of absence under federal or state law, our team of San Francisco Bay Area leave of absence lawyers can assist you. Contact Minnis & Smallets LLP to learn more about our services.