The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks off of work (unpaid) for the following reasons:
- Employee has a serious health condition;
- To care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition. The CFRA is more expansive than the FMLA, and also includes domestic partners, grandparents, and grandchildren, and siblings;
- The birth of a child (for both female and male parents); OR
- To care for a newly adopted or fostered child.
To be eligible:
- The employee must have been employed by the employer for at least one year and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period.
- Under the FMLA, the employer from whom the employee is seeking leave from must employ at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. Under the CFRA, the employer must employ at least 5 employees within no limit as to radius.
The FMLA and CFRA define a “serious health condition” as an illness, injury (including, but not limited to, on-the-job injuries), impairment, or physical or mental condition of the employee or a child, parent, or spouse of the employee that involves either inpatient care or continuing treatment, including, but not limited to, treatment for substance abuse. Examples include:
- Clinical depression
- Chronic back conditions
- Pregnancy or its complications, including severe morning sickness prenatal and postnatal care*
Family & Medical Leave Protections
Under the CFRA, after an employee returns from leave, the employer must reinstate the employee to the same or comparable position the employee had prior to going on leave, UNLESS:
- The employee’s employment would have ended or their hours would have been reduced even if they had not taken CFRA leave; OR
- The employee fraudulently obtained their CFRA leave.
Covered employers may not discriminate or retaliate against, harass, or fire an eligible employee for asking for, taking, or asserting any right under the FMLA or CFRA. They may also not discourage an employee from exercising any right under the FMLA or CFRA or interfere in any way.
*The CFRA does not recognize incapacity due to pregnancy as a serious health condition. However, in California, a pregnant employee may be eligible for leave of up to 16 weeks under the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s (FEHA) Pregnant Disability Leave (PDL)