Pregnancy, Family, and Medical Leave

When employees miss work because of their own serious health condition or a family member’s serious health condition, the last thing they should worry about is losing their job.  And, in many cases, California and federal laws do protect the jobs of employees who request leave because of their own medical condition or to care for their ill family member. These same laws also prohibit employers from terminating or otherwise punishing employees who take protected medical or family leave.

At Rukin Hyland, we help employees who have lost their jobs or who have been treated unfairly for taking protected medical or family leave.  If your employer took adverse action against you because you took medical leave, or denied your request for leave, please contact us online or call 415-579-1728 to schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers.

What are my rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) & California Family Rights Act (CFRA)?

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), qualified employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid employee leave for:

  • the employee’s own serious health condition
  • the serious health condition of an employee’s child, parent, or spouse
  • women who are unable to work due to pregnancy or childbirth
  • the birth of a child (for purposes of bonding)
  • placement of a child in the employee’s family for adoption or foster care
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of a family member’s active duty military status

When am I eligible for FMLA/CFRA leave?

Employees must (1) work for their employer for at least 12 months; (2) work at a worksite with at least 50 employees, of if there are less than 50 employees, a worksite where the company employs at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of the worksite; and (3) have worked at least 1,250 hours in the year prior to the day they begin leave.

What are my job and benefit protections under FMLA/CFRA?

While on a protected leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s medical benefits as it would have done if they employee continued working. When an employee returns from an FMLA or CFRA leave, an employer must, in most circumstances, give the employee the same job or an equivalent position.

Additional Military Benefits: In 2008, Congress expanded the FMLA to provide up to 26 weeks of leave to spouses, children, parents, or next of kin for a covered service member who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty.

What is the California Paid Family Leave (PFL) program?

The California Paid Family Leave (PFL) program provides partial wage replacement for employees taking time off work to care for seriously ill family members or to bond with foster or adopted children. Currently, the PFL defines “family” to include children, spouses or domestic partners, and parents. In September 2013, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 770, which expands PFL to include caring for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and parents-in-law, effective July 1, 2014. All employees covered by the State Disability Insurance (SDI) qualify for benefits under the PFL. Employees do not need to work for a set period to qualify and even employees of small employers are eligible for PFL.

What is California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave?

California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave provides benefits even if an employee does not qualify for a FMLA/CFRA leave; for example, if their employer has less than 50 employees, or if they have worked there less than 1,250 hours. So long as the employer has at least five employees, California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Act (“PDL”) provides for up to four months of job-protected leave due to medical conditions related to pregnancy. An employee may take longer than 4 months if her employer provides more than 4 months of leave as part of its own policies for temporary disabilities or in a union contract, or as a reasonable accommodation for a disability.  The employee has the right to wage replacement if the employee pays into State Disability Insurance (SDI), or if the employer has a policy or practice of providing employees paid leave.  Employers may, however, require a medical certification from a health care provider, but only if the employer requires certifications from other similarly situated employees. Employers must continue to pay for health care benefits for individuals who take PDL. An employee generally has the right to return to the same position once her PDL leave is over unless, for legitimate business reasons unrelated to the employee’s pregnancy or leave, the employee would have been laid off even if she had not taken the leave.

For more information on your employment rights during pregnancy, see our blog post:  What to Expect from Your California Employer When You’re Expecting.

Are there additional job protections for San Francisco employees?

  • San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance 
    Employers in San Francisco must provide paid sick leave to their employees, including part-time and temporary employees. Employees may take this sick leave for their own illness or medical treatment, or to care for an ill family member.  For more details, download our free eBook.
  • Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance
    In San Francisco, employers that have 20 or more employees, any employee who has worked for six months or more with the employer, and works at least eight hours per week on a regular basis, has the right to request to flexible a work arrangement. Employees may request such arrangements to assist with care for a child, a family member with a serious health condition, or a parent that is age 65 or older.  For more information, see our blog post.

How Rukin Hyland Can Help:

If your employer denied you family or medical leave, or you have experienced retaliation for requesting or taking such leave, or you need more information about your rights, or if you’re an employer who would like guidance on your leave policies, please contact us online or by phone at 415-579-1728 to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.