Without question, major life events can interfere with an employee’s ability to be present at work. Events such as a major illness, surgical procedure or the need to take care of a close family member who has fallen ill can cause complications for employees in California. Fortunately, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed in 1993 to help workers balance family demands and work responsibilities. FMLA leave is a wonderful benefit for employees, but there are some stipulations.
To be eligible for FMLA, employees are required to be employed for at least one year and to have worked at least 1,250 hours. Some workers may be under the impression that FMLA leave is paid. FMLA is actually unpaid, but eligible employees are allowed up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period. Although FMLA is unpaid, employees may still be able to use vacation days and sick days as well as other employer paid-leave types. FMLA leave is job-protected leave, meaning an employer is required to reinstate employees when the return from FMLA leave.
There are certain circumstances in which employees are allowed to use FMLA leave. These are military deployments, the birth or adoption of a child, and the need to take care of a serious health condition or to take care of an immediate family member. In some cases, if an employee requests FMLA leave to take care of a serious medical issue, he or she may need to provide proof to his or her employer.
The Family and Medical Leave Act was established to protect employees in the United States who need to take extended time away from work. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for employers to retaliate against workers who use FMLA leave. California employees who have questions about FMLA or feel that they have been punished for rightfully using FMLA leave should consider discussions with a legal representative.