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A guide to rights under FMLA

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2023 | Employment Law

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain family and medical reasons. FMLA helps California employees balance the demands of work and family, while also protecting the job security of those who need time off.


To be eligible for FMLA, an employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the start of their leave. Additionally, the employer must have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite.

Reasons for leave

The FMLA provides leave for several qualifying reasons, including:

  • The birth and care of the employee’s newborn child
  • The placement of a child for adoption or foster care
  • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, parent or child) with a serious health condition
  • The employee’s own serious health condition that makes them unable to perform the essential functions of their job
  • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a covered military member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty

Length of leave

Eligible employees are entitled to 12 work weeks of leave during a 12-month period, although some employers may choose to provide additional leave. In addition, military caregiver leave under employment law can be taken for up to 26 workweeks to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.

Job protection

During the FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s health insurance coverage and is required to restore the employee to the same or an equivalent job upon their return to work. This means that the employee has the right to return to the same position they held before the leave, or to a similar position with the same pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.

Notice requirements

In most cases, employees must provide their employer with 30 days’ notice of needing FMLA leave, unless the leave is needed due to a sudden and unexpected event. This may include a serious health condition.

It is important to note that while the FMLA provides many important rights and protections to eligible employees, it is not a guarantee of paid leave. If you are considering taking leave under the FMLA, it is recommended that you speak with your employer to understand your specific rights and responsibilities.

Know your rights

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that aims to help employees secure time off work for certain family and medical reasons. Employees need to understand their rights and responsibilities under the FMLA to take advantage of this important resource.