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Unpaid medical leave protections for California workers

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides some protections for workers that are very similar to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). There are a few differences that distinguish the two. Understanding what rights you have under both might help you determine which one you need to use to seek leave.

Both the CFRA and the FMLA provide unpaid time off for employees who meet specific criteria. They can take up to 12 weeks of leave per 12-month period for the birth of a child, the placement of a foster child in the home or the adoption of a child.

They both also provide workers with unpaid leave for a serious health issue or to care for a seriously ill family member. One of the primary care exclusions of the CFRA is that pregnant workers don't have any coverage under it until the baby is born. Under the FMLA, a pregnant woman who has medical complications can request leave.

It is possible for a pregnant worker to take a pregnancy leave of up to four months. This leave is a paid leave but must end at four months of benefits or when the child is born. The woman can use a new child bonding leave when the child is born for up to 12 weeks thanks to the CFRA.

Workers who think they aren't being given the time off that they're allowed under the law should find out what legal options they have. It is never acceptable for a worker to have to choose between keeping their job or taking care of their health or family members when they meet the FMLA or CFRA criteria.

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