Understanding FMLA and the California Family Rights Act

ill childIdeally, all covered employers would easily understand and have the compassion and resources to comply with the requirements of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). When an employee has worked for an employer under specific guidelines, they are legally permitted to take up to 26 weeks off within a 12-month period for a serious personal illness, injury or impairment; to care for a family member (child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or registered domestic partner) with a serious health condition; to bond with a newborn, adopted child or foster child, as well as under FMLA for a qualifying acute circumstance related to a close family members military service.

FMLA and CFRA Guidelines

While FMLA and CFRA guidelines make clear the employer requirements, too often these laws are violated, leaving many qualifying employees in a vulnerable economic position. Though FMLA and CFRA have some differences, the protections are basically the same and the eligibility requirements exacting.

Under FMLA, eligible employees of covered employers who take 26 weeks unpaid leave within a 12-month period are legally assured they may return to their same or similar job position upon returning to work. At the same time, their group health insurance continues as if they have been continuously employed.

Similarly, under CFRA for a qualifying employee, to be eligible for up to 26 weeks California family and medical leave, they must have worked a minimum of 12 months and 1,250 hours during that same period.

An FMLA and CFRA qualified employer must have 50 or more employees who work within 75 miles of the worksite. Companies with 49 or less employees aren’t required to follow FMLA or CFRA laws because they are considered less able to tolerate the economics of such employee leaves without undue hardship.

California Paid Family Leave (PFL) provides up to 6 weeks of partial pay to employees who take time off from work to care for a seriously ill family member (child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner) or to bond with a new child entering the family through birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

FMLA and CFRA guarantee that covered employers reinstate the returning employee to a same or comparable position. A “comparable position” is one basically identical to the former job in pay, duties, responsibilities, benefits and working conditions, which includes fringe benefits and status. As well, the job to which the qualifying employee returns must be located at the same location or close to the previous employment location on an equally scheduled shift or work schedule. However, under certain qualifying conditions, the right to return to the same job is not absolute, which you may need an attorney to analyze.

In addition to the above specified protections of FMLA and CFRA, beginning January 1, 2018, under Assembly Bill 908, disability insurance and PFL wage replacement increased to 60–70 percent (depending upon income) during a qualifying leave.

What’s more, to qualify for family leave protections, you must file for benefits no later than 41 days after your family leave begins. You must also provide medical certification from a physician or medical practitioner documenting your leave need for yourself or a family member.

Since the laws and both employer and employee requirements regarding FMLA and CFRA are complicated and stringent, it’s not difficult to run afoul of them. In some cases, covered employers know the law, hope you don’t, and don’t comply. In other cases, an employer may be ignorant of the specific family leave law requirements and fail to provide you with the required time off and other qualified protections. Always make sure you make your leave requests in writing and comply with company policy in requesting your leave. But if you do that and your rights are still violated, it makes sense to contact an attorney who fights for employee rights.

Challenging FMLA & CFRA Denials

If you believe you’ve been denied your lawful family leave and protections, regardless of why, there are substantial legal remedies. The Los Angeles employment law firm of V. James DeSimone Law is commitment to justice for those whose employee rights have been violated, and if we take your case, we will vigorously fight for your just remedies. With decades of success winning numerous multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements for our clients, you can be assured we have the experience and resources to provide the skills necessary to handle your case.

To determine whether your FMLA and/or CFRA rights have been violated, or to learn more about the qualifications for leave, protecting your job and benefits and how to qualify for PFL, call V. James DeSimone Law at 310.693.5561 to speak to our qualified legal team and, if we believe we can help you, schedule a friendly, respectful appointment in our Marina del Rey office.

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