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You have probably noticed that life has a way of throwing you curve balls, and sometimes you need extra time away from your job to deal with the unexpected. You can get just that under the California Family Rights Act, which allows a total of 12 work weeks of paid or unpaid leave, as long as you meet certain conditions. The provisions of the CFRA generally conform to the federal law, which is called the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Eligibility under the CFRA

You are eligible for extended time away from work if you have been employed for at least 12 months from the date you want your leave to begin, and you have physically worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours during that time. Any time you might have taken for sick leave, vacation, holidays, administrative time off or personal leave will not count toward those 1,250 hours.

Note from your doctor

If you require extended leave because of your own serious health problem or that of a family member who needs your care, you must provide your employer with medical certification from your healthcare provider. This could be a medical doctor, a podiatrist, an optometrist or dentist, a clinical psychologist or a chiropractor, if the health issue involves the requirement of spine manipulation. The healthcare provider may also be a nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife or Christian Science practitioner.

Continuing company benefits

If you are an employee eligible for leave under the CFRA, your employer is not required to pay you. However, if you receive benefits through the company health insurance plan, your employer must continue making those benefits available to you. If you are a participant in other company benefit plans, the accruals will also continue while you are absent from work.

Returning to work

When your CFRA leave is over, your employer must guarantee that the same job you left is still available to you upon your return to the company. Otherwise, if that position is not available, you must be given one that is comparable in terms of job content, location, pay and opportunity for advancement. Keep in mind that you can request this guarantee in writing before you go on leave.

Unforeseen problems

You have significant rights under the CFRA. If you need extended leave and are facing difficulties with obtaining the proper approval from your employer, or are meeting with resistance concerning the benefits you are due, you may wish to reach out for advice and support to an attorney experienced with issues related to the state act.