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Work leave and your right to care for an ill family member

Illness can happen at any time to a member of your family, and a serious health condition may require your extended attention to provide care for him or her. If a member of your family needs your prolonged care, you will likely need to arrange for leave from work.

Federal law and California law protect your right to care for an ill family member through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act. Although these laws overlap, the exact parameters of each vary slightly. Here is some information that will help you understand more about your right to take leave from work when you need to care for a sick family member.

FMLA and CFRA

You may need a considerable amount of time to help your family member recuperate. FMLA and CFRA grant up to 12 weeks leave per year to care for your relative. This time increases to up to 26 weeks leave per 12-month period to care for an ill service member. There are certain requirements you must meet in order to claim this particular type of leave. For example, you need to have already worked at least 12 months with your current employer, with at least 1,250 work hours accrued before the leave period starts.

Employer obligations and your rights

If you qualify for these types of leave, your employer cannot deny your leave request. In addition, the law protects your job, and your employer must reinstate you in your job in the same position or a comparable position. Some employers retaliate against employees who take their protected leave by demoting them or by terminating them. If you find yourself in a case such as this, you should pursue a legal avenue to exercise your rights.

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