Omid Nosrati

When can employees take FMLA/CFRA leave?

Last time, our blog began discussing how the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, and the California Family Rights Act enable qualifying employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period to manage family- or health-related issues.

Specifically, we focused on the requirements that employees must satisfy in order to qualify for FMLA/CFRA protection. Having accomplished this, the focus must now turn to the conditions for which leave may be sought.

In general, "family care and medical leave" may be taken under the FMLA/CFRA for any of the following life events:

  • The birth of the employee's child, or the placement of a child with the employee in connection with foster care or an adoption
  • The care of a child by an employee in connection with a serious health condition
  • The care of a spouse or parent by an employee in connection with a serious health condition
  • The care/treatment of the employee in connection with their own serious health condition that has left them unable to perform the functions of their position

The parameters for what constitutes a serious health condition are rather arcane. Indeed, consider that a serious medical condition is defined as any "illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition" involving either of the following:

  • Inpatient care in a hospital, residential health care facility or hospice, or;
  • Continuing treatment/supervision by a health care provider

While this might seem relatively straightforward, there are actually multiple avenues through which an individual can satisfy the "continuing treatment/supervision" requirement.

It's also important to understand that while a disabling pregnancy-related condition qualifies as a serious medical condition under the FMLA, pregnancy is not afforded such treatment under the CFRA. As such, any woman who needs to take time off prior to the birth of a child owing to a difficult pregnancy will see the time counted toward only the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

We'll continue this discussion in future posts...

In the meantime, remember to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible if you believe that an employer has unjustly denied your request for leave under the FMLA/CFRA, or wrongfully terminated you for exercising these rights.

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