It is early in the morning, the sun has yet to rise, and the alarm on your phone goes off. Work is hours away but this is the alarm you set is for yourself, it is the alarm you customized on your phone with the arm flexing emoji entitled “get fit”, this is your morning run alarm. You get dressed, grab your watch, headphones and are ready to take on a lengthy run. A few minutes into your run though, you step out onto the street and you are hit by a speeding car. Days later you wake up in the hospital and are told you are going to live and will recover but you will be on bed rest for at least a few months.
What do you tell your boss?
Does your boss have to hold your job open for you?
Will it matter that this happened outside of work?
How much time off can you take off from work if you are injured?
Does your injury even qualify for leave?
Do you have rights as an employee if you have a serious injury and need time off?
Although the scenario above is unfortunate, it very common for the unexpected to happen in an employee’s career. But what happens to an employee who has been seriously injured outside of work and needs time off to recover? Employees in California have rights when it comes to taking leave but only in particular circumstances. It is important for employers as well as employees to be well-informed of the rights and regulations that govern recognized leaves in employment law. These laws that regulate leaves can be complex which is why the assistance of an Employment Attorney is necessary. An Employment Attorney may be able to answer all the normal and perhaps unique questions an employee may have regarding their potential case. Sometimes an employee has a case, other times they may need to fill out and apply for certain things, or an employee may need to put a request in writing regarding their leaver to their employer. Each employee’s case is different and needs the careful consideration of an Employment Attorney. Below are a few things an employee should know about taking a leave.
1. Who can take a leave?
An employee who is suffering from a severe illness or health condition may be eligible for a recognized leave. The employee may also take a leave if they need to care for their husband, wife, child, or parent who is suffering from a severe illness or health condition.
Illnesses and serious injuries are not the only types of reasons an employee may have to receive time off. The law also recognizes other types of situations that an employee may need to take time off from work. One reason may be to adopt a child or to be present for the placement of an adopted or foster child. Another reason for leave that is protected is if an employee’s husband or wife is on active duty in the armed forces and an emergency arises out of the spouse’s active duty status. Lastly, the employee may take time off for the birth of a child and for the care of the recently born child.
2. Exactly how much time do you get?
How much time an employee is entitled to for leave can be extremely complicated and more likely than not will need the close consideration of an Employment Attorney to decide what the employee was or was not entitled to for their leave of absence. Technically, depending on a number of factors, an employee is entitled to a max of 12 weeks of protected leave. This leave is usually unpaid leave unless the employee’s employment contract says otherwise. If the employee needs more time for their leave, they will need a letter from their doctor verifying this in addition to requesting the additional leave as a form of accommodation.
Again, every employee’s situation is different and would ultimately need to discuss their circumstances with an Employment Attorney.
3. What your boss shouldn’t be doing
Of course, taking a leave of absence is not ideal for any employee or their employer, but sometimes it is necessary and the law recognizes that to an extent. But a common fear that employees have when they need to take a leave is that their boss will be mad and punish them for taking the leave, even if it is not their fault.
Can an employer punish an employee for taking a leave?
Depending on the particular set of facts, an employer who is irritated with an employee for taking leave cannot punish that employee for requesting the leave or for taking the leave for a recognized reason. An employer may violate employment laws by reducing an employee’s pay, transferring the employee to another department, removing the employee from the schedule when they are able to work, demoting the employee, calling the employee names, singling the employee out, making derogatory comments regarding their disability, reprimanding the employee for bogus reasons and perhaps even firing the employee from their job. This kind of behavior that is being exercised by an employer towards an employee who requested a leave or took a recognized leave may be characterized as retaliation which is prohibited by law. If an employee can show that they were treated adversely for taking a leave, they may have a retaliation claim against their employer. If an employee was not only treated adversely for taking or requesting a leave but was also terminated, the employee may also have a wrongful termination claim in addition to a retaliation claim. When applied, these laws can be complex therefore an employee or former employee should contact an Employment Attorney to discuss whether they should file a claim against their employer or former employer. Retaliation, wrongful termination, and discrimination are types of legal situations that can be difficult to handle but an experienced Employment Attorney may be able to help an employee who feels as though their rights have been violated.