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Keep your job and help your family: your rights under FMLA

Most California employees are aware of the fact that mothers and fathers have the right to a certain amount of time away from work when a new child is born or brought home through fostering or adoption. The rights granted to certain employees through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) go beyond maternity and paternity leave, extending to other types of family and medical emergencies.

According to the FMLA, eligible employees also have the right to take leave when other situations affect their family. As an employee, you will find it beneficial to know your rights in case you need time off due to a medical emergency, illness, pregnancy or other reasons.

What rights do you have?

The FMLA grants an employee the right to take leave in certain situations that pertain to the well-being of his or her family. As an employee, you have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in these circumstances:

  • After the birth or adoption of a child
  • After you take a child into foster care
  • When you need to care for the medical needs of an immediate family member
  • When you are unable to work due to a medical condition

During the time of leave, the employee's job must be protected, which means the employee cannot lose his or her job while on leave, nor can the employer fire a person for exercising his or her rights under the FMLA. The employee will also retain his or her medical benefits.

Are you eligible for protected unpaid leave?

Not every employee is eligible for FMLA leave. You have the right to take leave for the care of a loved one or for yourself if you have worked for your employer for a period of at least 12 months. You must also have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours for a company that employs at least 50 people. The FMLA also applies to public agency employees and public or private school employees.

Fight to protect your rights

In addition to FMLA rights, California workers also enjoy protection provided by the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Both of these laws protect the interests of an employee who needs time off work, and they prohibit discrimination against an individual who exercises his or her right to medical or family leave. Employees who suffered  unfair treatment due to violations of the FMLA or CFRAcan taketake legal action against the employer and seek financial compensation.

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