Leave of Absence and Time Off
In our attorneys’ experience, leave of absence and time off is an often misunderstood area of employment and labor law for employers. Combined with other potential issues, such as the need for time off as a reasonable accommodation for a disability or the return to work on modified duty following a workers’ compensation leave, the legal analytics can be mind boggling.
The general rule in California is an employer does not have to allow time off unless the law requires it. Even if the law requires the time off, the law does not require employers to pay for the time off (with very limited exceptions).
In addition to required leaves, an employer can create additional leave obligations for itself by creation of leave policies or practices, such as vacation or PTO time, sick leave and time off for personal leaves of absence.
Exceptions Swallow the Rule
Like the at-will rule, there are so many exceptions to the basic rule. More and more exceptions kick in the bigger your business gets, the unspoken rationale being the more employees you have the more you can cope with the disruption to your business.
In California, certain mandated leaves exist for even single employee businesses, for example, time off to attend child school discipline or for court appearances for victims of domestic violence. Pregnancy disability leave is required in California even if your business has just five employees.
At 25 employees, under California law other leaves such as to attend child school activities, drug and alcohol rehabilitation leaves, and others are required.
Businesses that reach 50 employees are congratulated by the State of California and the United States by being welcomed into the “family medical leave club” (Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)). Such employers have the privilege of monitoring up to 12 weeks of leave for each eligible employee (with the potential exception of “key employees”) for their own or a relative’s serious health condition per 12 month period.
Job Restoration Rights
Most leave laws require reinstatement to the same position after completion of a protected leave. Exercise of leave rights is a “protected activity.” Taking action against an employee for exercising such rights is unlawful.
In our experience, management encounters serious challenges in administering mandatory leave issues along with their employer’s own paid and unpaid time off policies. The law places burdens and responsibilities on employers in these leave of absence claim situations. Our employment lawyers can help employers establish record-keeping and administrative policies which can enable them to comply with the law and avoid potential violations.
Vision Law® Corporation believes employers can save time, money, and unnecessary disruption to their business through effective, proactive efforts. That is why we have created our innovative fee programs for businesses. We invite you to consider how cost-effective representation could save your company millions, or simply save your company.