If you need to take time off from your job in California, you might be eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. This act allows qualifying employees to take time off to deal with medical or family emergencies. During this time, their job must continue paying out their health insurance benefits and have their position waiting for them when they get back. However, you must meet certain conditions before you’re allowed to take time off under the FMLA.
How can you qualify to take time off through FMLA?
According to the FMLA, you must have worked for your current employer for at least a year and logged at least 1,250 hours there. The FMLA only applies to employers with at least 50 employees who work within 75 miles of the job site. Schools and public agencies are also included under the FMLA.
To take time off under the FMLA, you must have a qualifying medical condition. This can include a disability, pregnancy, illness, severe injury, mental illness or another condition that requires ongoing treatment. Your condition doesn’t have to meet the legal definition of a disability, but it does have to be serious; you can’t take 12 weeks off just because you have a cold.
Typically, FMLA leave is unpaid. However, your employer might require you to use your sick or vacation days as part of your leave. Either way, your employer can’t fire you or change your position while you’re gone, and they must have the same position or an equivalent ready for you when you return. If your employer fires you while you’re gone, you might be able to sue for wrongful termination.
When should you think about hiring an attorney?
Your employer cannot fire or demote you while you’re away on FMLA leave. If they do, it might be time to hire an attorney. An attorney may help you protect your rights by suing your former employer for federal law violations. A lawsuit might bring public attention to the issue and prevent your employer from doing that to another employee.