Life is unpredictable. As an employee's family grows and changes, there are times when the employee may not always be able to come into work. For smaller situations, California employees may have sick days, but for more serious issues employee laws do offer some employees job protections. These situations include the birth or adoption of a child, a serious medical issue or the serious illness of a close family member. The federal law most commonly used to protect employees in these situations is the Family Medical Leave Act.
FMLA was passed in 1993 by President Clinton and it allows some employees to leave their job for a limited amount of time without fear of losing their job. Prior to the passage of FMLA it was up to employers whether to offer a leave of absence to employees.
However, FMLA only applies to certain employees, therefore not every California employee will be protected by the law. In order for FMLA to apply, the employer must have at least 50 employees. Furthermore, the employee must have worked for that employer for at least one year. In that year, the employee must have completed 1,250 hours of work. In the case of foreseeable leaves of absence, such as maternity leave, employees must have given at least 30 days notice to the employer.
If FMLA does apply to an employee, then the employee is entitled to up to 12 unpaid weeks of leave from the employer each year. During the time of the absence the employer must provide job protection and all health insurance benefits must continue.
After being notified of an employee's FMLA request, an employer has two days to deny the request. If employers break FMLA rules by illegally deny requests or not providing job protection, an employee may be entitled to compensation.
Source: Business 2 Community, "What Businesses Need to Know About FMLA ," Jason Knapfel, Dec. 17, 2012