Disability and Leave of Absence Policies « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles

Disability and Leave of Absence Policies

Keeping Up with Changing Employment Laws

A recent California Employer Daily article touches on an important employment law subject — the unanticipated pitfalls HR managers and employers face, including from the shifts and refinements in the state and federal leave laws.

Key leave laws—the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)—only apply to businesses with 50 or more on payroll.  However, other leave rights apply to far smaller companies.  For example, California’s pregnancy leave rights apply to businesses with five or more employees.  Full time and part time workers apply in the calculation of total employed.

Whichever leave laws apply, employers should be cautious about strictly enforcing employment policies that limit employees’ unpaid leaves of absence.  For example, some businesses carry policies that permit employees to take a specific amount of additional time off without pay after using up a medical or family leave under FMLA or CFRA.

As we have reported previously See “Say ‘ADAAAAHHH!”, employers are obligated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to explore reasonable workplace accommodations for disabled workers.  Thus, a disabled employee might successfully challenge the above set-maximum leave policies on the ground that such strict application does not constitute an attempt at reasonable accommodation. Thus, employers should consider revising such “additional leave” policies to permit case-by-case examination and flexibility.

An experienced employment lawyer will be able to assist you in developing such legally-sound workplace policies.