What Are Your Rights for Paid Family Leave?

When a sick family member needs you by his or her side, you shouldn’t have to wait to clock out of work to be there. A new California law is empowering thousands of workers to take the time they need to look after their loved ones. Here’s what you need to know about the changes and what you’re qualified for.

Paid Leave Increase

The Golden State is currently one of only four states with paid family leave legislation. Previously, you were allowed six weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or sick family member at a rate of 55% of your wages. Thanks to the change, employers have to start paying employees 60% of their wages by 2018. A new group of designated low-income workers will receive 70% of their pay under the same timeline.

How to Qualify

Claiming your child has a serious case of pink eye is not enough to qualify for the Paid Family Leave program. To meet the requirements, your family member must be seriously ill or you must need the time to bond with a new child, adopted or paternal. California’s State Disability Insurance defines a “serious health condition” as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition of a patient that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility. In order to earn PFL benefits, you, your employer, and a physician must fill out the proper paperwork. The document must say that the severity of your relative’s condition requires you to provide care including psychological comfort and arranging third-party care. Your claim is confidential and will not be shared with your employer.

Defending Your Rights

On your first day of work, your employer is legally required to give you pamphlets detailing your rights to this program. Under this legislation, your employer cannot fire you for taking time off and must pay you regularly. If a physician approves the medical leave but your employer denies it, your rights have likely been violated.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated while caring for a family member, you should seek the advice of an experienced labor and employment law attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Carter Law Firm today for immediate assistance.