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Family and Medical Leave Act a foundational benefit

Many individuals will face a medical need or will require time to help a sick or disabled family member. A federal program known as the Family and Medical Leave Act provides the ability for most employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their jobs without endangering their employment. California has also supplemented this program with an additional paid family leave insurance program for state residents. 

This February will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the FMLA program. Since its inception, the program has been utilized over 200 million times by workers all across the United States. Unfortunately, this program is not available to all workers, and some individuals who experience a serious medical issue are not afforded the protections of the Act. 

When workers aren't able to take paid leave from their jobs, they often face the unattractive option of choosing family or work. Many times, families will struggle as people make the decision to put food on the table over taking time away from the job to support themselves or their loved ones. The California program was developed in response to this need for paid leave. The program aims to support people who need income while they recover from medical issues. 

In California, the paid leave insurance program and the Family and Medical Leave Act work together to support most workers. Most of the time, if a person needs to take time away from work for a medical reason, they can do so without fear of losing their position. However, if a person has lost their job due to taking time away for medical needs, they may wish to consult with an attorney for an evaluation of the case. 

Source: The Hill, "From family leave to inclusive paid leave - the importance of the disability lens", TJ. Sutcliffe and Kali Grant, Jan. 22, 2018

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