Both federal and state laws protect your right to take unpaid leave in certain circumstances. To qualify for that leave, you need to have worked for your employer for long enough, and the company itself also needs to be a certain size.
However, if at least fifty people are working for the company within 75 miles of where you work and you have worked there for at least a year, you may potentially qualify to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave in certain specific circumstances.
Can you use that leave to help take care of your spouse during a round of debilitating chemotherapy to treat their recent cancer diagnosis?
Yes, providing medical support is a reason to request leave
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) both include family medical needs as a reason for a worker to request unpaid leave. You shouldn’t have to decide between keeping your job and caring for a loved one when a serious health condition is involved.
A cancer diagnosis necessitating aggressive treatment like chemotherapy in a spouse, child or parent would likely qualify you for leave under the FMLA or the CRFA, provided that you have not already used up your leave in recent months. You only have the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave, regardless of how long-lasting the issue is.
Your employer should allow you to take the necessary leave and return to your same job without consequences. Those unfairly denied family leave or those facing retaliation from their employers may need to learn more about their rights to protect themselves from their employer’s misconduct.