I have a sick family member in Los Angeles and my company is refusing to let me take time off. Isn’t that illegal?

It can be very frustrating when an employee is torn between caring for family members and working. When a family member is ill, one of the employee’s first thoughts is often how to take time off work without losing the job. Fortunately, both federal law and California law give employees the right to take time off work in certain situations, and the employer must allow the individual to return to work in those cases. The California law is called the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the federal law is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Both are similar but have some differences.

Both laws only apply to covered employers, which in general means employers with 50 or more employees. Under both laws, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave to care for an immediate family member with a serious health problem. In order to be eligible for the leave, an employee must have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months on the day the leave is set to start. Also, the employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period.

Under both laws, if an employee wants to take time off to care for a sick family member, that family member must be a child, parent, or spouse. The employee is not required to be paid for the time off, but the employer may ask that the employee first take paid time off before using the leave. If an employee chooses to use the leave available, the employee must be restored to the same position upon returning, and the employer must continue providing benefits during the leave, although the employee may be required to pay for those benefits.

If your company is not offering you time off to care for a sick family member, and you believe that you are entitled to that time off, you should speak with an employment attorney. If you are in Los Angeles, call me, Conal Doyle, Los Angeles employment attorney at 310-385-0567. I can help. Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation on your case.