Do I qualify for a medical leave from work under FMLA or CFRA?

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Do I qualify for a medical leave from work under FMLA or CFRA?

Whether or not you qualify for job-protected medical leave depends on: (1) your employment situation; (2) your relationship to the person who is sick or injured; and (3) the nature of the health condition.

First, to qualify for medical leave in California, an employee must at least meet these conditions:

  • They have worked for their employer for at least 12 months; and
  • They have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before leave; and
  • Their employer has at least 5 employees.

California employees can take medical leave to provide care for:

  • Their own serious health condition
  • A wife, husband, or a domestic partner
  • Parents
  • Children, including an adult child
  • Brothers or sisters
  • Grandparents or grandchildren

Heath conditions eligible for medical leave include:

  • Overnight care in a hospital or other medical facility
  • Multiple medical treatments that require work absence of over three days each
  • An illness, injury or incapacity that requires periodic medical visits
  • A long-term chronic health condition that requires medical treatment
  • Childbirth (12 weeks of medical leave can be taken in addition to 4 months under the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law, for a total of nearly 7 months)
  • Care for a newborn child, or a newly adopted child
  • Certain special situations involving active U.S. military, including injury on duty or military caregiver leave

Even if you do not qualify for medical leave under a law such as FMLA or CFRA, your employer may be required to offer you leave as a reasonable accommodation for an underlying disability. For example, if you have cancer and have exhausted your medical leave time but need a few more months off for chemo, your employer may be required to extend your medical leave time because cancer qualifies as a disability.

Whenever possible, an employee must give their employer 30 days’ notice before medical leave starts. Of course, in the case of an emergency, you are only required to notify your employer as soon as possible.

Many minor illnesses or injuries do not qualify for medical leave. However, California requires nearly all employers provide employees three days of paid sick leave per year, if they have passed 90 days probation and work at least 30 days per year in the state. If your employer fires you for using any of your sick leave, you may have a right to sue for damages including wrongful termination.

In some cases, employers are not required to allow an employee returning from FMLA to get their exact same job back. For some employers, it may be impracticable to hold an employee’s exact job for them during their FMLA leave. Under the FMLA, an employee is entitled to return to a “similar” position. So, if an employer cannot hold an employee’s job for them, they must find a similar position for the employee upon their return.

Other Disability & Medical Leave FAQs:

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