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Can I take a leave of absence to care for a sick family member?

When one of your family members is seriously ill, it can be challenging to provide for his or her care while you continue to work. Fortunately, in California, you may be able to take a leave of absence to care for your loved one without losing your job.

Here is what you need to know about taking time off work to help a family member with a serious illness.

Who can take a leave of absence to care for a family member?

Employers with five or more employees must allow eligible employees to take time off of work to support a family member with an illness or injury that requires inpatient care or treatment by a healthcare professional. Family members include spouses, domestic partners, children, siblings, parents and grandparents.

You are eligible if you have worked for your employer for at least one year and accrued 1,250 hours over the past year.

You can take a total of 12 weeks off annually. Unless you use your paid vacation or sick days, your employer is not required to compensate you during your leave. However, you may qualify for additional assistance from the state.

What happens when I go back to work?

In most cases, you can return to the same or a comparable position after your leave. Your employer can not fire you or otherwise retaliate against you because of your absence.

Despite the restrictions, an employer could try to eliminate your position anyways. If this happens, you may have legal options to protect your rights.

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