The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) are laws that allow an employee to take unpaid leave from their job for a variety of reasons. Reasons include caring for a family member who is ill, the employee caring for themselves if they are ill, or for children who cannot take care of themselves.
How Does FMLA Work in California?
Every employer in California with at least 50 employees who have been working for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year must comply with the FMLA.
The FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specified reasons including:
- Bonding with a newborn, adopted or foster child
- Recovering from a serious medical condition (there are special extensions to the FMLA that concern recovering from COVID-19)
- Providing care for a family member who has a serious health condition (again, check with an HKM lawyer about COVID 19 extensions to the FMLA)
- Preparing for a family member’s military service
- Providing care for any family member who has suffered a serious injury or illness during active military duty
California state laws also provide additional coverage for family or medical leave, including Paid Family Leave, Pregnancy Disability Leave, the California Small Necessities Law, and California domestic violence leave. To learn more about these additional benefits, speak with your attorney.
How Employers Disregard Employee FMLA Rights
Employers may try to disregard eligible employees’ FMLA rights. In the fall of 2019, however, the U.S. Department of Labor ruled that an employee may not delay designating FMLA leave for an employee if they know that an eligible employee needs leave for an FMLA-qualifying reason. An employer must inform the employee within five days that the leave is FMLA leave.
An employer who does not follow the regulations may be liable for any compensation or benefits lost by the employee.
An employer also may not retaliate against any eligible employee who requests FMLA leave.
Evidence Supporting a Claim
An employer may require an eligible employee to submit a certification from a medical provider that supports the employee’s need for FMLA leave to care for themselves or a family member. An employer may not, however, ask for an FMLA certification for an employee to bond with a newborn, adopted or foster child.
If an employer requests certification from a healthcare provider, the employee requesting the FMLA leave needs to provide a complete and sufficient certification within 15 calendar days of this request. The employee pays for the cost of the medical certification and for making sure it is provided to the employer.
San Diego Employment Law Attorneys
HKM Employment Attorneys is a multi-jurisdictional employment law firm with offices throughout the United States. Our practice areas cover a wide range of employment concerns, including sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and disability discrimination.
Our employment law attorneys can help you prepare an FMLA claim and represent you if your employer contests your claim. With over four decades of experience in employment law, HKM Employment Attorneys works to build a strong attorney-client relationship, which helps to secure successful outcomes.
If you live in San Diego or in Southern California and you would like an initial Consultation, call our offices today.