California workers may encounter personal situations that result in a need for extended time away from their jobs. In certain family or medical situations, job-protected leave may be taken under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides for up to 12 work weeks of time off within a period of 12 months. Disabled employees might face situations in which their need for leave exceeds the limits of FMLA, in which case the Americans with Disabilities Act could come into play. In both situations, timing can be confusing. Employers and employees can benefit from a clear understanding of these factors to minimize misunderstandings and abuses.

When employees make use of their FMLA time in small increments, it may be challenging to determine the beginning and ending of the 12-month period for counting leave. An employer may use a calendar year or a fiscal year for FMLA computations. There is also the option of using a rolling method, which involves counting forward from the date of a previous leave or backward from a current leave request. An employee may have the option of using FMLA after using up accrued paid leave, or they might be required to use such leave first in accord with established policies for the employer.

ADA leave is not clearly limited in terms of maximum leave. Employers are expected to provide comparable options to those afforded to other employees. Additionally, they should allow for the use of accumulated paid leave first. In addressing the needs of disabled employees, it may also be possible to identify accommodations that would facilitate ongoing employment instead of the need to use leave.

Employee rights for disabled parties can be violated because of misunderstandings or intentional choices by employers. If a wqorker believes that a request for certain accommodations is reasonable and is being ignored, it may be helpful to obtain legal counsel to better evaluate the situation and the available options.