Family and Medical Leave Act and California Family Rights Act: A Basic Overview of your Rights

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to a job-protected leave of absence for specific family and medical reasons. The Act also allows the employee to continue with their group health insurance coverage as if the employee had never taken such leave.

Under the Act, any eligible employee is allowed twelve workweeks of leave in a twelve-month period for any number of reasons such as:

·      the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;

·      the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;

·      to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition;

·      a serious health condition preventing the employee from performing the essential functions of their job;

·      any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or

·      twenty-six workweeks of leave during a twelve-month period to care for a covered service member (also known as military caregiver leave).

The FMLA applies to private employers with 50 or more employees and all public (government) employers.


An employee must be granted FMLA leave after he has been employed with the same employer for a total of 12 or more months, working at least 1,250 hours in the year preceding the requested leave of absence, not including paid time off such as sick leave or vacation). While the leave is unpaid, generally employees are allowed (or required) to use their accrued paid time off during FMLA leave.

The California Family Rights Act

California has enacted the California Family Rights Act, which essentially has all of the same requirements of the Federal Act itself. Like the Federal Act, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) only applies to employers who employ more than 50 full or part-time employees. However, the California law entitles those employees, who are eligible, to take pregnancy disability leave in addition to any entitle leave they may have under CFRA.

I need to take leave; what do I do?

Under the provisions of CFRA, an employee must provide at least verbal notice “sufficient to make the employer aware the employee needs CFRA” leave. The employee must also state the reason for the leave and the anticipated timing and duration. Employers may require 30-days advance notice, however if notice is not feasible it must be given as soon as feasible. Finally, the employer must respond to the employee within ten days. Upon granting CFRA leave the employer must guarantee reinstatement (except in extreme circumstances) to the same or comparable position in writing upon the employee’s request.

Legal Resources

The laws regarding family and medical leave are complex, and it is important to understand your rights as an employer or an employee. The attorneys at Garcia & Gurney A Law Corporation are well qualified to answer any of your questions regarding FMLA or CFRA. Contact us today.


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