As the holidays quickly approach more people will be gathering together to celebrate. When large groups of people get together, germs are likely to be spread around. Winter is commonly known as cold and flu season, and these holiday gathers will certainly contribute to the spread of these common illnesses. As a result, many California workers will be forced to use sick days in order to recover at home.

Thankfully, the Center for Disease Control has not predicted a bad flu season this year, but people will still get sick. Many California workers may be wondering if the Family Medical Leave Act is available if they get sick from a cold or the flu.

Under this employee law, FMLA only covers serious health conditions and normally a cold or the flu do not meet the standard necessary for FMLA protections, unless complications arise. If complications arise from the cold or the flu, California employees may be eligible for FMLA protections. For example, if a person is forced to take antibiotics, hospitalized or incapacitated for more than three days then FMLA may apply. In these cases, employees will need to evaluate the situation on a case by case basis.

This cold and flu season it is important for California employees to remember that they have federal protections that protect their jobs if serious illness were to arise. However, people must make sure that they qualify for FMLA protection before relying on it.

For employees that do qualify for FMLA protections, they should remember that they may be entitled to compensation if their employer chooses to violate FMLA. Depending on the facts in each case, employers may be responsible for compensatory and punitive damages.

Source: Business Management Daily, “On eve of flu season, know what FMLA covers,” Nov. 6, 2013