Even if your life currently seems boring and predictable, that could change in a moment. Medical issues, car crashes and countless other situations could leave you or someone in your family in need of medical care. You could find out that you or your spouse are pregnant or learn that you will soon become the guardian of your niece because your sibling recently passed away.
During challenging times, you may qualify for unpaid work leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as well as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). If your circumstances and employment history qualify you for unpaid leave, there is another restriction that you need to consider.
Your annual leave rights are cumulative
The average worker seeking leave under the FMLA or CFRA will receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave from employment. At the end of that leave, they will either need to return to work or make alternate arrangements with their employer, possibly involving their accrued paid time off. If you take leave to care for an active-duty service member, you may qualify for up to 26 weeks of leave.
Whichever maximum applies, you will not receive additional leave regardless of what else happens with your family. If you use all 12 weeks of leave for the adoptive placement of your niece, then you will not have the option of claiming FMLA or CFRA leave when you need a two-week leave of absence for a serious illness.
This information should not deter you from taking all of your leave but rather assist you in managing expectations if you have back-to-back situations demanding leave from work. Learning more about the FMLA and CFRA can help you protect your job despite family or health issues that affect you personally.