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How employees are protected by the California Family Rights Act

When a person receives the difficult news that either they or a family member has been diagnosed with a serious health condition, a litany of questions will inevitably run through their mind. In particular, they may wonder about how much time they can take off work and whether they can be fired for being gone for too long.

In these trying times, it's important for employees to be aware of their rights under the California Family Rights Act, which applies to all employers doing in the business in the state that have at least 50 part-time or full-time employees.

In general, the CFRA provides that employees are permitted to take leave to manage their own serious health condition, or the health condition of a spouse, child or parent. If the employee is full-time, they may take as much as 12 weeks in a 12-month period and, if the employee is part-time, they may take leave on a proportional basis.

In order to take leave under the CFRA, however, an employee must be able to satisfy the following eligibility requirements:

  • They must have worked for the employer for more than 12 months.
  • They must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours for the employer in the 12-month period preceding the start of the CFRA leave.

Some very important points to keep in mind concerning CFRA leave include:

  • Employers are not required to pay employees taking CFRA leave.
  • Employers can request a 30-day advance notice for CFRA leave, but if this proves impossible, an employee can provide notice as soon as is practical.
  • Employers can require employees taking CFRA leave to use both vacation and other accumulated leave, and, if the leave is for their own health condition, accumulated sick time.
  • Employers cannot stop health benefits under a group plan, participation in other benefit plans or the accrual of seniority for employees taking CFRA leave.
  • Employees taking CFRA leave are guaranteed a return to their previous position, and in the event their position is no longer available, a return to a comparable one.

Above all else, it's important for eligible employees to understand that if their employer has fired them for exercising their rights under the CFRA, they do have options for pursuing justice. Indeed, a skilled legal professional can examine the possibility of filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and pursuing a wrongful termination lawsuit.

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