California workers don’t need to work during FMLA leave

California employees are often pulled in many different directions. While they have important responsibilities at work, they also have very important responsibilities and obligations to their family and their own health. In some cases, people must choose between the two. When people need to leave work to take care of their family or attend to a personal issue, they can sometimes still feel obligated to fulfill their duty at work.

For example, in one case a woman had to use leave under the Family Medical Leave Act to have surgery and to recover. While on leave, the woman participated in work business. She sent emails and participated in important meetings that took place while she was away. When she returned to work, she was terminated. Her employer claims that budget cuts were the reason she was fired.

The woman, however, sued the company. She claims that she was forced to work while on FMLA leave. The court eventually dismissed the case because the woman’s boss had reminded the woman to rest and the woman freely choose to work during leave.

This case is important for California workers to keep in mind. People need to remember that they are under no obligation under employment laws to work when they need to use FMLA leave. Instead, people are free to use the time to take care of their family or themselves. Employers cannot pressure people to work, or retaliate against them for refusing to work during the time they are off from work. In order to avoid these issues, people should try to set clear expectations for the leave, prior to leaving work.

As this case shows, FMLA leave can be complicated. People who need to use medical leave should make sure they understand the protections that FMLA offers and whether or not they qualify for them.

Source: Business Management Daily, “Beware letting work happen on FMLA leave,” July 10, 2014

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