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Using FMLA Leave to Care for a Sick Family Member

While many employees know they have the right to take time off of work for their own illness or pregnancy under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), these laws also allow employees to take time away from work without such leave affecting their jobs, if they need to care for a sick family member (spouse, domestic partner, child or parent.)

The FMLA and CFRA allow employees to take up to 12 weeks off of work in a 12-month period. If you work for a public employer of any size, or a private employer with 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius, you are covered by CFRA and FMLA as long as you have worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.

In addition, California law also offers Paid Family Leave (PFL) which provides up to six weeks of paid benefits for employees who need time off to care for a sick spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild. And, there are also separate provisions in California laws providing for "kin care", allowing all public and private employees to use accrued sick leave to care for ill family members.

While all employers should understand how to apply these laws correctly, some companies don't understand them, or just don't apply them correctly. If your job or pay was impacted because your employer did not allow you to take time off of work to care for a family member, or penalized you for using this legal time off of work, it is important to talk to an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible. California's labor and employment laws can be complex, so a lawyer who understands the interplay between the FLMA, CFRA, PFL, Kin Care and other laws will be in the best position to help determine if you were wronged.

Note: As we reported in a blog post earlier this year, there is a pending bill at the California State Legislature that, if passed, would update and provide a more generous paid family and medical leave under the FLMA. That bill is still currently pending with the legislature.

Sources: http://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/FAQ_PFL_and_FMLA_and_CFRA.htm, http://calshrm.org/2016-forecast, http://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/Am_I_Eligible_for_PFL_Benefits.htm, https://www.calhr.ca.gov/Documents/leave-comparison-of-fmla-and-cfra.pdf

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