An important part of any employee’s life is a work-life balance. Time away from your employment gives you time to relax and enjoy hobbies. It is important to know what your rights are as an employee and when you can take time off in California. Sometimes, it is illegal for an employer to deny you leave or retaliate against you for taking leave. In other cases, it is an employer’s right to allow or deny time off.
Paid time off (PTO) is not mandatory in California. Some employees are provided a certain number of hours each year that they can take off work while still gaining income. Because of this, PTO has stricter guidelines, but employers have less control if you choose to take PTO. Employees who can take PTO can also often take unpaid time off.
Providing unpaid time off for any reason is not legally required of employers. However, many employers allow employees some unpaid time off throughout the year. As an employee, you will not gain wages during this time, but you can take a vacation or a much-needed break. Employers are allowed to deny unpaid time off requests in certain circumstances, such as for recreational activities. Some unpaid time-off requests are illegal to deny.
Both state and federal laws guarantee job-protected unpaid leave for certain medical and family reasons. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the federal law, and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is the state law. Between these two laws, employees can take up to twelve weeks a year off for the following reasons:
If you request unpaid leave for one of these reasons, your employer cannot deny your leave request. The FMLA and CFRA also provide protected job leave. This means that you must be returned to your previous job or a comparable job when you return from leave. It also means that your employment must include similar pay, seniority, and benefits.
An employer is only obligated to allow you unpaid leave for the medical and family categories listed in the FMLA. Your employer is not required to provide you with unpaid time off if:
If your leave fully qualifies under the FMLA, and your employer denies it without providing you with a valid reason, you could take legal action. If you take unpaid leave under the FMLA, and you return to work only to be given a demoted role or not given your job at all, you are also permitted to file a claim. If you return to work and are harassed or otherwise retaliated against for taking leave, you can seek a legal remedy.
To qualify for unpaid medical leave under the FMLA, you must meet the following requirements:
If you meet these requirements, your family or medical unpaid leave should be allowed by your employer. If your employee rights have been violated, you may want to talk with a Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer. They can give you information about how you can receive compensation for workplace retaliation or an illegal denial of leave.
There is no state-mandated paid time off (PTO) cap in California. However, each employer is likely to have their own caps for vacation time and PTO in company policies. There are some cases where employer caps are considered unreasonable and are not recognized or enforced by the labor division. However, if an employer’s cap falls within reasonable limits, it is enforceable by the state labor division. Look at your company policy or talk with your employer about PTO caps.
Labor law changes in California in 2023 include:
Yes, unpaid time off is allowed if your employer lets you take it. Unpaid time off is not protected if you are taking recreational or vacation time off. Many employers do allow employees to take unpaid time off for these reasons, but it is not required. Under the federal FMLA law, an employer must only provide unpaid time off.
If you are taking unpaid leave for reasons not covered by the FMLA, then your employer is within their rights to refuse your unpaid leave request. Vacation or recreational unpaid leave is up to your employer’s discretion. If you are taking leave to care for a family member, recover from a medical condition, or welcome a new child into your family, this leave is covered by the FMLA. Your employer should allow you unpaid time off for those reasons.
If your employer is denying you leave that you have a right to, you may be able to receive compensation. Talk with the Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez today for legal counsel about your employer’s actions.