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Do you know your rights under FMLA and CFRA?

Taking care of yourself and your family means that you sometimes need to take time off due to serious illness or injury. In other cases, you deserve time to be with that new baby when he or she comes home. Both federal and state law help protect these rights, which means that you can do what you need to do without jeopardizing your job.

The California Family Rights Act and the federal Family Medical Leave Act both allow employees to take time away from their jobs to care for a serious health condition suffered by themselves or their family members or to bond with their newborn children. Many of the provisions of the two acts overlap, but there are differences. First, if you are planning to ask your employer for leave under FMLA or CFRA, you need to understand what rights each of them provide.

Do I qualify to take time off under CFRA and FMLA?

To qualify for CFRA leave, your employer must meet the following criteria:

  • Private employers: Employ a minimum of 50 people for at least 20 weeks a year in the preceding or current calendar year. Those 50 employees include:
    • Commissioned employees
    • Employees who received no compensation
    • Part-time employees
    • Employees on leave who are expected to return to active employment
  • Public employers: No limitation on number of employees.

Under CFRA, you must:

  • Be employed for a minimum of 12 months
  • Worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months preceding when you want to take leave
  • Work for an employer with a minimum of 50 people working within 75 miles of your worksite

If you and your employer meet these conditions, you may apply for leave under either FMLA or CFRA.

How much time is available under CFRA and FMLA?

The acts entitle you to a total of 12 weeks within 12 months. How you take the leave is up to you, but it cannot exceed this maximum. One exception for this falls under FMLA, where you may take a total of 20 weeks off if you care for an ill or injured member of the United States Armed Forces.

Any sick and vacation leave you accumulate during the course of your employment could help offset the fact that you ordinarily do not receive pay during leave under CFRA or FMLA. Your employer must provide you with the position you left or a comparable one (including same pay and benefits) upon your return.

Other rules for you and your employer exist under both acts. Before applying for leave under either act, consult an attorney to be sure that you and your employer qualify and to discover what rights and responsibilities each of you must adhere to before, during and after your leave. Too many people fail to understand leave under the CFRA and FMLA, and disputes often arise. Your attorney can help avoid any disputes or help resolve them if they already occurred.

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