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FAMILY, MEDICAL & DISABILITY LEAVE: The Family Medical Leave Act in California

As an employee, you may be entitled to certain protections if you need to take a leave of absence due to changes in your personal circumstances, such as pregnancy, a medical crisis, or the death of a family member. These protections are provided under California's Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which guarantees eligible employees the right to take unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons.

Denial of Family, Medical & Disability Leave Protections Comes in Many Forms

California’s FMLA provides several key protections for employees who need to take leave for family or medical reasons. These protections include the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for specified reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, serious illness of an immediate family member, or the employee’s own serious health condition. Employees who are covered by more than one of these laws are entitled to the rights set out in the most protective law.

Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave provide wage replacement benefits only; they do not provide job protection. Your job may be protected under other California and/or federal employee leave laws, such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

To qualify for leave under FMLA, your employer must have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your workplace. You’ll also need to have worked there for at least 12 months and logged 1,250 hours in the past year.

California’s CFRA applies to businesses with 5 or more employees. It offers similar leave for medical reasons, but there may be slightly different eligibility requirements compared to FMLA.

Both FMLA and CFRA cover your own serious health condition and that of a close family member (spouse, child, or parent).  California law even allows you to combine FMLA and CFRA for a total of 12 weeks of leave in a single year.

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In California, workers have the right to take time off from their jobs for significant health issues, to care for a sick family member, or to spend time with a new child, whether through birth, adoption, or foster care. This state-specific benefit, known as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave, ensures workers can prioritize their family’s well-being without fear of repercussions.

Additionally, there are similar rights at the federal level through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which also covers leave for one’s own or a family member’s serious health condition, or to bond with a new child. In cases where both state and federal regulations overlap, employees can leverage the benefits offering them the most advantages. This ensures they can navigate their professional and personal obligations with confidence while optimizing their rights in the workplace.

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Military leave provisions ensure that employees called to active duty for up to six months receive their entitled benefits, including 30 days of paid leave. To qualify for this compensation, individuals must have completed at least one year of service with the state or have a combined duration of military and state service equivalent to one year immediately preceding their military duty commencement.

Also, if you’re going for your annual military training, like reserve drills or National Guard duties, you can get paid leave for that too, according to specific government rules. These military leave benefits offer vital support to servicemembers, ensuring their financial stability and job security during periods of active duty and training commitments.

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Paid medical and sick leave regulations in California mandate that companies provide their employees with paid time off for medical needs, including personal health appointments or caring for a loved one. Starting from January 1, 2024, this means that almost all workers, whether they work full-time, part-time, or temporarily, can get at least 40 hours or five days off each year if they:

  • Have worked for the same place for at least 30 days within a year in California, and
  • Have been with the company for 90 days before they use any of their paid sick days.

These provisions ensure that employees have the necessary support to prioritize their health and well-being without financial strain, fostering a healthier and more productive workforce statewide.


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Maternity leave is the period a woman is allowed to be away from work to welcome a new child into her life, whether through birth, adoption, or foster care. In California, there are laws that protect many women’s jobs during this time, ensuring they can take leave for pregnancy and childbirth without the fear of job loss.

These laws, known as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL),  protect your job security while ensuring you have ample time to bond with your newborn or newly placed child. California offers comprehensive pregnancy leave laws that empower expecting mothers (or parents) to take time off for childbirth, adoption, or foster care placement. These laws, known as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL),  protect your job security while ensuring you have ample time to bond with your newborn or newly placed child. A significant advantage of California’s system is the ability to combine CFRA and PDL. This allows for a potentially longer leave period compared to some other states.

California’s pregnancy leave laws prioritize both your physical health and the well-being of your new child. By understanding your rights under CFRA and PDL, you can confidently plan your leave and focus on this special time without job-related anxieties.

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California voting leave laws aim to facilitate democratic participation by ensuring that employees have ample opportunity to exercise their right to vote in statewide elections. In California, if you’re working during a statewide election and don’t have enough time outside work to vote, you’re allowed to take up to two hours off with pay to do so. You can take more time if needed, but only two hours will be paid. Additionally, employers are required to post a notice at least 10 days before the election informing employees of their rights regarding voting leave.

This time off should be at the start or end of your workday, to minimize disruption to your work schedule, unless you agree on a different time with your employer. If you anticipate needing time off to vote, you must inform your employer at least two working days before the election.

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If you’ve experienced a distressing incident related to an issue like this, call us for a free case evaluation.

Did You Know?

Protected Work Leave
The California Family Rights Act authorizes eligible employees to take up a total of 12 weeks of paid or unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period
Disability Leave
The California Family Rights Act authorizes eligible employees to take up a total of 12 weeks of paid or unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period
FMLA and CFRA laws help to protect your job while you are receiving Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave benefits.

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