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Your recent pregnancy has made it necessary for you to take time off from your job. The Family and Medical Leave Act grants workers time away from a job to handle certain family situations for up to 12 weeks. However, you might not be sure if FMLA leave will cover you.

According to U.S. News and World Report, whether FMLA will protect your rights depends mainly on the company you work for and the length of time you have spent working for your employer.

The employee size of your workplace

If you work for a business that does not have many employees, you probably will not qualify for FMLA. Federal law dictates that a workplace must have no less than 50 employees for a period of 20 weeks or more in the present or prior year. FMLA does not cover a company that hires less than 50 workers.

Your time as an employee

If you work at a company covered by FMLA, you must have the right work history or FMLA will not protect you. The law requires you to have worked for your employer for at least one year. In addition, you must have completed 1,250 hours for the year that you have worked.

If you work for eight hours in a day, the federal requirement would add up to at least 156 days in a one-year period, though your exact number of days will vary according to factors like overtime. Your number of hours completed, however, is the primary measurement for your eligibility.

Be ready to make your case

Knowing whether you qualify for FMLA can help you decide to pursue leave under this law. You may have to provide a doctor’s medical certification of your condition if your employer asks for it. In the event your employer disputes the length of your work history, you may need documentation of your time working for your employer. The right paperwork could help you prevent an effort by your employer to deny you your rights.

In California, the law allows fathers to take time off work after the birth of a baby or the adoption of a child. Known as paternity leave, the process is similar to the time mothers get off to allow for bonding with the baby. However, because the father does not go through the physical process of birth, the time is usually much shorter.

The California Employment Development Department explains paternity leave is available under Paid Family Leave. You will need to apply for and meet the requirements for the Paid Family Leave program.


To take paid family leave for a new child in your family, the child must arrive in the family within the past 12 months. You also must have paid into the State Disability Insurance program in the five to 18 months. Finally, you cannot have already taken more than eight weeks under Paid Family leave within the last 12 months.

There are no citizenship requirements. San Francisco workers may have additional benefits under local ordinances.


You can file your claim for Paid Family Leave through the mail or online. You will need to supply personal information and details about your request that prove you meet the eligibility requirements.

Once you make your claim and receive approval, you can manage it online. If you need to request an extension, you should be able to do that online as well. Just remember that your leave time must follow the general rules of Paid Family Leave. Your employer must comply with the request and the requirements under the law because it applies statewide.

If you have been in the workforce long enough, you may have experienced ageism at least once. Some employers put more emphasis on age than they do on skills, qualifications and experience. This way of thinking is especially prevalent in industries that younger people tend to dominate, such as technology and hospitality.

No matter where you work, you may be able to file an age discrimination claim. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, your supervisors are not allowed to discriminate against you if you are 40 or older.


Age-based harassment can come from clients, colleagues or supervisors. This form of discrimination can be tricky because remarks and behaviors have to be serious enough to be illegal. The general rule of thumb is that if the harassment can lead to long-term issues such as employment changes or uncomfortable working conditions, it is against the law.


Your job may have some practices or policies that you do not even realize are ageist. For example, your employer might set up rules for everyone on your team that negatively affect your contemporaries. As long as the rule is not predicated on a factor besides age, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would deem it age discrimination. Employment procedures such as promotions, demotions, hiring and firing should also not favor colleagues who are younger than you.

If you are dealing with age discrimination at work, you should not “get used to it” or accept it as the status quo. The people you work with should treat you with respect no matter how old you are.

Your employer honors Family and Medical Leave Act leave, but you worry you may need more than the standard 12 weeks away. What options do you have for extending your leave?

Chon explores circumstances in which employees may extend their FMLA leave. Protect your rights and your job by understanding how the law works.

Using 12 weeks of leave

Under the FMLA, you may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical or family reasons. You decide whether you take those 12 weeks all at once or in increments. Your employer may let you take off over 12 weeks, but the FMLA does not cover that extra time. If your company agrees to give you more time off, get it in writing and signed. You may also want your employer to agree to give you the same position and pay, or something similar when you return.

Filing an FMLA leave extension

FMLA leave extension forms do not exist, but company policy may allow you to take additional time off. While on FMLA leave, keep your employer in the loop. That way, if it looks like you need over 12 weeks off, you may work together on the matter.

Notifying your employer about your leave

If you must take off for a family or medical emergency under FMLA, let your company know at least 30 days before you take time off. Examples of leave covered under the act include placing a child from foster care or adoption, taking care of a newborn baby and tending to an immediate family member with a serious medical condition. You may only take off 12 weeks for every reason combined.

By understanding all facets of FMLA leave, you know how to go on leave the right way.

You recently asked for Family and Medical Leave Act leave, but your boss denied your request. Did your company violate your employment rights?

Chron explains when companies have the right to reject FMLA requests. Get the facts, so you know what to do next to take care of yourself and protect your rights.

Does not meet FMLA requirements

Even if your employer must follow FMLA regulations, it need not honor requests that do not meet the latest requirements. For instance, perhaps you only have 10 months at the company rather than the required 12. You must work for a company location with at least 50 workers or 50 workers within 75 miles.

Not enough employees

Perhaps your private-sector company does not have 50 workers right now. If not, they do not have to honor your request for FMLA leave.

Does not qualify for FMLA leave need

You may only take FMLA for specific reasons:

  • Newborn baby care and a child’s birth
  • Placing, caring for or adopting a child
  • Caring for a spouse or parent with a severe health condition
  • A severe medical condition keeps an employee from working

Even if you have another serious life emergency, if it does not meet FMLA need requirements, your company need not honor your request. You may ask about other leave options your situation qualifies for.

Non-qualifying medical condition

Not all psychological and physical conditions qualify for FMLA leave. You must experience incapacitation and meet other prerequisites. Getting a physician’s certificate could help prove your medical condition’s severity.

Understanding how FMLA leave works saves time. Getting the facts also helps you know when your employer violates your rights.

Every parent looks forward with equal parts excitement and concern to the birth of a new baby. You might find yourself with similar feelings towards new birth, adopting a child or assuming guardianship of a foster care child. It is a big change that affects everyone involved and the transition takes time.

That is why California law has protections in place for taking that time, depending on your situation.


According to the Society for Human Resource Management, both the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and California Family Rights Act provide for the baby-bonding leave. FMLA helps cover pregnancy disability leave, which amounts to up to four months of leave for mothers. But the CFRA also provides up to 12 weeks of baby-bonding leave for mothers and fathers if you qualify.

Qualifications include having worked with your employer for 12 months prior to taking the leave and working over 1,250 hours

Additional leave

Your employer may have structures in place to work with you and your family situation. While the FMLA and CFRA have limits on their leave protections, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act may impact your working circumstances.

State disability insurance

Workers in California may have access to up to six weeks of partial wage replacement as well. While this program lacks job protections, it might assist in recovering wages from the state while taking leave.

Utilizing this leave is your right if you qualify. But As described above, there are a lot of legal structures to navigate. In the worst-case situation, you might have a discrimination case on your hands if your employer cuts your pay or demotes you as a result of this baby-bonding leave. Researching the answers to your leave questions may help clear up any confusion.

As surprising as it seems, not all companies treat their workers alike. Some companies employ mostly part-time workers and therefore pay no benefits to them. Other companies try to find ways to declare their workers are not employees but contractors. These variances may make you wonder if the rules and safeguards that apply to other California workers apply to you as well.

In particular, you may ask, does the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that covers so many workers in California also apply to me? Do I have to work at a large company before I get those privileges? Can I seek recourse if I don’t receive time off for pregnancy or illness? What if I get fired or if my job is dramatically altered?

Does California have a law that grants family and medical leave?

California has its own state law that protects workers called the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). In 2021, the state legislature greatly enhanced its protections so the rights that previously only applied to companies with 50 employees now apply to all companies with as many as five employees. There are certain other qualifications employees must meet to qualify for CFRA coverage.

What rights do I have under the CFRA act?

The broad protections of the CFRA include 12 weeks a year of unpaid leave with job protection for employees. Employers must grant leave for a number of conditions including pregnancy, serious illness and bonding with new family members.

While this new California law is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction that many other states will eventually follow.

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