Do I have Job Protection during a Health Emergency?

At some point in your life, it is almost inevitable that a family health issue will cause you to miss work to attend to a loved one.  Instinctively, you will make yourself available to help care for your mother or father, hoping your job will be understanding.  But at the end of the day, is there any law that ensures you have job protection during a health emergency?

The answer to this question depends partly on the size of your employer.  If you work for a large employer (over 50 employees) you may have job protection under the Family Medical Leave Act, which provides up to 12 weeks of leave to help care for a family member with a “serious health condition.”  However, the law only applies to employees who have been with the company for at least one year, and have worked at least 1250 hours in the year preceding the leave request.  That leaves a lot of employees out of the equation, leaving open the possibility that you could actually be fired for staying home to care for a father who suffered a stroke, or a mother who was battling cancer.

If you don’t qualify for protection under the FMLA, then the only other law that might help you is called the “Kin Care Statute.”  Under this law, if your employer provides “sick leave” or “PTO,” then you are allowed to use up to ½ of your yearly amount to care for a relative with a serious health condition.  While this statute does apply to small employers, the amount of leave that can be taken is likely to be quite small.

Good employers will work with employees who are faced with family emergencies, even if there is no law that specifically protects your job.  That said, not all employers are so understanding, and as a result, you should understand your rights under these statutes should a health scare arise in your family.  The Long Beach employment attorneys at Carlin & Buchsbaum can provide you valuable advice in this regard. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are in need of a Los Angeles discrimination lawyer to defend your case.