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Leaves of Absence and Other Workplace Accommodations

Leaves of Absence & Other Workplace Accommodations Attorney in San Francisco

The employment attorneys at Minnis & Smallets defend the rights of employees to take the leaves of absence that are legally available to them.

Sometimes an employee may need to take an extended leave from work, which could mean being out for a few days to being out for a few months. In certain circumstances, state and federal laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California laws like the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) grant employees the right to not only take this time off but return to work in the same position or within a similar capacity.

Denying an employee the right to take a leave of absence that the employee is legally permitted to take is a violation of the employee’s rights. Not all leaves of absence are protected by law. Speak with an experienced employment lawyer to determine whether your proposed leave is protected by law.

What is Family and Medical Leave?

FMLA and CFRA are quite similar. Both grant certain employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave from work for reasons related to their own health or close relatives’ health. Both also permit employees to take time off after the birth or adoption of a child to bond with the new child. To be eligible for FMLA/CFRA leave, an employee must have worked for their employer for a year or more and must have worked more than 1,250 hours for that employer within the preceding year.

However, FMLA and CFRA have some important differences, too. Under FMLA, leave is only available to employees who work for an employer with 50 or more employees within seventy-five miles of the employee’s job site. CFRA, on the other hand, was expanded effective January 1, 2021 to cover any private employer with 5 or more employees, regardless of their distance from the job site. CFRA also allows employees leave to care for certain additional family members, including a domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law. This change extended leave benefits to many more employees in California but may also lead to confusion for those who are applying for a leave of absence in the state.

Can A Leave of Absence be a Reasonable Accommodation for a Disability?

Sometimes an employee may not qualify for FMLA/CFRA leave, and other times an employee may need more leave than the FMLA/CFRA allow. In such circumstances, an employee has the right to request a leave of absence as a reasonable accommodation for his or her disability. An employer is required to provide such leave if the leave is likely to allow the employee to later return to work and providing it would not create an undue hardship for the employer.

Are Pregnant Employees Entitled to Leaves of Absence?

Pregnant employees who qualify for FMLA leave are entitled to take FMLA leave during the time period in which they are disabled because of pregnancy.  Pregnant employees in California who work for an employer with 5 or more employees are also entitled to take up to 4 months of job-protected, unpaid leave while the employee is disabled by pregnancy or childbirth, as well as CFRA leave to bond with their baby.

What Other Types of Leave Are Available to Employees?

Other types of leave may be available to employees, depending on the purpose of the leave, the size of the employer, and the number of hours the works. Some of the types of leave offered in California include:

  • Domestic Violence Leave. Employees in California are allowed to take time off to attend court to obtain a protective order or judicial relief from a perpetrator of domestic violence. Most employees are also able to take leave for medical treatment, counseling, and other needs related to domestic violence.
  • Military Family Leave. Most employees are eligible to take leave to spend time with a military spouse who has been deployed.
  • School Activities Leave. Workplaces with at least 25 employees must grant employees time off to attend school activities. Employees can take up to 40 hours a year, but no more than 8 hours in a single calendar month.
  • Organ Donation Leave. Most employers in California are required to give paid time off to employees who donate an organ or bone marrow.
  • Jury Duty. Employers must allow employees to participate in their civic responsibility of serving on a jury.
  • Voting. Employees may be able to take two hours of paid leave at the beginning or end of their shift to vote on election day.

Where Can I Get Legal Help?

In the workplace, you have certain rights. One of these is the right to leave in certain circumstances.. If you were denied your right to take a leave of absence or any of the benefits that accompany such a leave, such as healthcare benefits during your time out of work, an experienced employment lawyer may be able to help. Contact our team at Minnis & Smallets LLP by calling us at 415-551-0885 or by submitting an online contact form.


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