An employer’s guide to employee leave in California

Employers in California should be sure to understand their responsibilities for granting personal leave time to employees.

Businesses in California must adhere to a variety of laws. Some of these may pertain to environmental issues or to contractual relationships as an example. Employment laws are also in place to protect employers and employees alike. Among these laws are the Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act . Together, these two pieces of legislation outline provisions surrounding personal leave for specific purposes.

What do the FMLA and CFRA require of employers?

As explained by the California Department of General Services, these two laws require companies to provide some employees time away from work to attend to specific personal situations. The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law and the California Family Rights Act is a state law. They stipulate that companies must give workers up to 12 weeks of time away from jobs in one year. During leave time, employees' health insurance benefits must be continued and comparable jobs must be provided to employees upon returning to work.

What is a comparable job?

CalChamber, a human resources advising company, indicates that employers are not mandated to provide employees with the exact same positions after taking leave under the FMLA or CFRA. However, any jobs provided after leave must be of similar compensation, responsibility and hours.

What situations warrant leave under these laws?

The FMLA and CFRA are designed to give employees bonding time with newly born or adopted children or with newly accepted foster children. Employees who unable to work due to a serious medical condition or who must provide care for an immediate family member experiencing a serious medical condition may also take leave under these laws. Proper identification of what is deemed a serious medical condition is important when determining if FMLA or CFRA leave is appropriate.

How much leave time is allowed?

In most cases, employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave per year. People caring for members of the U.S. military can extend leave up to 26 weeks. Leave need not be granted consecutively and can be allowed in small bits of time that adds up to the 12 or 26 week maximum.

What employers are covered by these laws?

All public employers must follow these laws. Private employers with 50 or more employees must as well. These employees can be any combination of part- or full-time workers, people not financially compensated, people compensated only by commission or people on other types of leave.

How can employers learn the nuances of leave laws?

Managers and business owners can be at risk if the FMLA or CFRA laws are not properly followed. Talking with an attorney if questions arise is always recommended as a way of preventing legal problems.