Did You Exhaust Your 12 Weeks of FMLA/CFRA Leave?
Let’s assume that an employee is on medical leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) because of a serious health condition. Under both the FMLA and the CFRA, the employee is entitled to no more than a total of 12 weeks of medical leave per year. At the end of the 12 weeks, however, the employee is still unable to return to work. How should the employer respond?
Unfortunately, many employers believe that an employee has no right to any additional leave once the employee has exhausted his/her 12 weeks of FMLA/CFRA leave. But even after the employee exhausts his/her 12 weeks of FMLA/CFRA leave, he/she may still be entitled to additional leave as a reasonable accommodation under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (the “FEHA”) if the employee’s serious health condition qualifies as a "disability" under the FEHA. (This is a likely and commonly occurring scenario, given that the FEHA’s definition of "disability" is relatively broad; generally speaking, “disability” is defined as any physical or mental disability that “limits” a “major life activity,” such as working, walking, or sleeping.)
Thus, because of the FEHA, once an employee exhausts his/her 12 weeks of FMLA/CFRA leave, an employer’s obligation to provide additional leave to that employee does not necessarily end. Instead, the employer must engage in the interactive process to find a reasonable accommodation for the employee. At the end of the interactive process, the employer must provide the employee with additional leave as a reasonable accommodation unless the employer can demonstrate (a) that providing additional leave will impose an undue hardship on the employer; or (b) that another effective accommodation would allow the employee to perform the essential functions of his/her position.
If you have questions about FMLA/CFRA leave, call ((916) 612-0326) or email (email@example.com) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Granite Bay, and Elk Grove.
The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.