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How does medical leave in California work?

Managing your health or the well-being of your family can be unpredictable. You could be completely healthy and manage to contract a virus or you could be living with a chronic or autoimmune disease. Pregnancy, adoption and an ill parent or child might take you away from your job.

California is one of five states that has additional legislation regarding sick leave. Along with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), California has the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Both require employers to offer certain amounts of time off to qualifying employees for various reasons. They encompass pregnancy leave, serious medical issues, and leave for taking care of a sick immediate family member.

The CRFA offers eligible employees a total of 12 weeks leave that can be either paid or unpaid depending on the employer. While on leave, these employees will be able to keep their health benefits and their job will be protected for them when they return.

Whatever your situation may be, you need to work to make a living as well as care for yourself or your family. If you are concerned that taking time off for a health-related issue could result in losing your job, you may want to be familiar with the kinds of medical leave you are entitled to.

Types of medical leave in California

Medical leaves you may be entitled to under the FMLA and the CFRA include:

  • Paid sick days

Under the FMLA, paid sick days are often worked into an employee’s benefits. The amount of time depends on whether the employee is full-time or part-time. These days are meant for those day-long flus or other illnesses that do not require serious medical attention or time off.

  • Pregnancy leave

The CFRA allows unique benefits for pregnancy leave that are not covered under the FMLA. If you are pregnant, you are eligible for Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) which allows up to 16 weeks of leave. In addition, you and your spouse may be eligible for the 12-week baby bonding leave under the FMLA. This also applies to adoptions or foster care. The CRFA added domestic partners as having the same eligibility as spouses for this leave which was not included with the FMLA.

  • Serious health condition

You may qualify for leave if you have a serious health condition that is protected in the CFRA. This can include an injury, mental or physical condition that requires you to be absent for more than three consecutive days. If you experienced a serious accident, you may be eligible for leave to recover from your injuries. You may also be eligible if you have a chronic illness that requires treatment or could temporarily disable you from carrying out daily activities.

  • Care for sick family member

If you have a child, parent or spouse that require care due to a serious health condition, you may be eligible to utilize the leave under the CFRA. This could be for reasons like a personal medical leave such as an injury, disease or other illness that involves extra time attention for the sake of his or her wellbeing.

Understanding what your rights are as an employee can be beneficial. You may find yourself in a situation where you need to take a medical leave that you are eligible for under the FMLA and/or the CRFA and your employer either denies your request or attempts to terminate you. Your health is important and knowing what constitutes discrimination could protect you and your job if a medical situation arises.

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