What are the Family and Medical Leave Act and California Family Rights Act?

Many people know of the acronym “FMLA” and maybe even a few have heard “CFRA” tossed around, but what are they? What do they cover? And most importantly, can you use them? The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) are laws passed by the Federal government and State government for your benefit and the following article will give a brief overview of the two. And this entire page is written by an employment lawyer!

What are the benefits of the FMLA/CFRA?

The FMLA/CFRA enables an eligible employee to take up to a total of 12 workweeks of paid or unpaid job-protected leave with employer-paid health, dental, and vision benefits during a 12-month period for one or more of the reasons listed below. The 12-month period can be a calendar year, a fixed “leave year” of 12 months, such as a fiscal year, the 12-month period measured from the date an employee’s first FMLA/CFRA leave begins, or a rolling 12-month period. A “rolling” 12-month period means that when an employee uses any FMLA/CFRA leave, any FMLA/CFRA leave used within 12 months of that date counts against 12 workweeks.

“Rolling” 12-month example: Today is May 17, 2016, and John starts FMLA/CFRA leave. We look back to May 18, 2015 to see if John has used any FMLA/CFRA. It turns out that John has used one workweek of FMLA/CFRA leave in July 2015, so John has eleven workweeks of FMLA/CFRA that he may use.

Who is eligible for FMLA CFRA leave?

There are two requirements in order to be eligible:

  1. You must be employed for a total of twelve months on the date that FMLA/CFRA leave is supposed to start.
  2. You must have physically worked for at least 1,250 hours during those twelve months. This works out to be averaging a little over 24 hours worked per week over 52 weeks. Time off from sick leave, vacation/annual leave, administrative time off, compensating time off, holidays, informal time off, or personal leave are not counted toward the 1,250 hours of work.
  3. You must work at a location which the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite.

We will cover these three in far more detail in the next blog post about FMLA/CFRA eligibility.

What reasons are eligible for FMLA/CFRA leave?

As mentioned earlier, there are three basic reasons for FMLA/CFRA leave:

  1. The birth of a child or adoption or foster care placement of a child (maternity leave).
  2. To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
  3. When the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

If you want to know if your specific reason falls within one of these categories, contact an employment lawyer. This has been a very basic overview of FMLA/CFRA leave, particularly regarding the reasons, but if you tune in next week we will go more in-depth into the eligible reasons.

While every case is different and the laws are much more complicated than this basic outline, we hope this gives you some basic information so you can conduct research on your own. However, if you have been terminated while on FMLA/CFRA leave you have may have a claim for wrongful termination. If so, contact our office for a free consultation with a pregnancy and maternity leave lawyer. Or visit our leave of absence page.

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