How Much Notice Am I Required to Give my Employer Before I Request FMLA or CFRA Leave?

FMLA stands for the Family and Medical Leave Act while CFRA stands for the California Family Rights Act. The FMLA is a federal act and applies to all states, while the CFRA applies only to the state of California. Although there are some differences between the FMLA and the CFRA, both acts provide employees who meet certain eligibility with 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to bond with a newborn, newly adopted or foster child, for the serious health condition of the employee's child, parent, spouse, and for the employee's own serious health condition.

Generally, the eligibility criteria of the employers and employees covered under FMLA or CFRA are the same: (1) the employer must have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of employee's worksite and (2) the employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, even with a break in service. A "serious health condition" under the FMLA and the CFRA is defined as an illness, injury, impairment, or a physical or mental condition that involves in-patient care in a hospital, hospice or residential care facility or continuing treatment by a health care provider.

Employees who are eligible to take leave under the FMLA or CFRA must notify their employer of their need to take leave. The employee should include in their notification the reason for the leave and its estimated duration. The employee's notice to their employer can be either written or verbal. If the need for FMLA or CFRA leave is foreseeable, for example, a pre-scheduled surgery, then an employer may require an employee to provide 30 days advance notice before the employee's leave begins. If 30 days advance notice is not practical because of a change in circumstances, a medical emergency, or not knowing when leave will be required, then the employee must give their employer notice as soon as practical and possible.

However, an employer may require an employee to comply with its own policies for requesting leave and the employer can take action under its internal rules if an employee fails to follow set procedures for requesting leave, so long as the policies do not discriminate against employees taking FMLA or CFRA leave. As such, it is important to read your employer's leave policies carefully with respect to notice requirements, as well as consulting with an experienced employment lawyer with any questions regarding your employer's notice requirements.

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