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Can a California employee leave work to care for an adult child?

Sometimes life brings unexpected circumstances that require extra special attention. People have babies, people get sick and people have emergencies they need to deal with. When these extraordinary circumstances happen, people often wonder if their jobs will be safe under employment laws if they need to take time off from work.

One of the occasions where people may ask this question is when an adult child is seriously injured. When people's children are seriously hurt, no matter their ages, they are likely to need their parents help. Under the federal Family Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act, when a child is over the age of 18, they are considered disabled if they have a serious health condition or qualifying disability and they are unable to take care of themselves because of their disability or health condition. In order to show that a person cannot take care of themselves, they must need help in at least three of their day-to-day activities including eating, cleaning, cooking or bathing.

However, in order for these rules to apply to an employee, that employee must otherwise qualify under the FMLA or CFRA. Both of statutes have eligibility requirements including the number of employees in a workplace, the number of hours worked by the employee and the amount of time the employee has worked for the employer. If an employee does not qualify for FMLA or CFRA then that employee may not qualify for unpaid leave to care for a disabled child.

If people qualify under FMLA or CFRA and they have a qualified reason to take leave, then under they are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. When people need these benefits and qualify for them, employers are responsible for keeping their job open. If an employer fails to follow these employee laws, then that employer could face legal punishment. No employee should have to suffer through illegal treatment after dealing with a personal crisis.

Source: The Herald, "Sara Boyns: Protected leave to care for adult child," Sara Boyns, Jan. 24, 2013

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