Your job is important to your family. With your paycheck, you pay the rent, buy food and provide everything your family needs to survive. If you lost your job, you know how difficult it would be to find work again. Losing your job may be a constant worry to you, especially if a family member needs medical attention or some other problems arise.
Did you know that the law requires your employer to allow you time off to take care of your family under certain circumstances? If you work in a company that employs more than 50 people for at least 20 weeks a year, you probably qualify for the benefits of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Qualifying for FMLA provisions
FMLA is not the same as sick leave or personal time. If you have the flu or need to get your driver's license renewed, you cannot use family leave. Under FMLA, your boss must allow you up to 12 weeks off within a year if you request it for any of the following reasons:
- You are very ill.
- Someone in your immediate family is seriously ill.
- You are welcoming a new baby into your family, whether through birth, adoption or a foster program.
- A family member deploys in the military, and you have personal matters to take care of.
In order for you to qualify for time off under FMLA, your employer may ask for proof of the medical condition or situation for which you are requesting leave. For example, you may need to obtain a medical certification from your doctor. You will usually have about two weeks to provide that information to your boss before gaining approval for your time off. Your employer may also verify your situation by contacting your doctor.
Protections under the law
Under the law, your boss does not have to pay you for this time off, but you may be fortunate to have an employer who offers pay for family leave. However, whether your company does or does not offer paid leave, your boss cannot fire you for taking the time to care for your family.
When you return from your leave, your exact position may no longer be available, but there must be a similar position with the same pay and benefits as the job you had before your leave. If this does not happen, or if you have questions concerning your eligibility or the process of obtaining FMLA provisions, you have the right to seek the help of a California attorney.