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CFRA Leave: Is a Formal Request by the Employee Necessary?

June 12, 2024

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides eligible employees with the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. A common question that arises is whether an employee must formally request CFRA leave to benefit from its protections. Here’s what both employees and employers need to know.

Employee’s Responsibility to Request CFRA Leave

Under CFRA, the employee is typically required to provide notice to the employer to initiate leave. However, the specific request for “CFRA leave” does not have to be made using special language. The employee must communicate the need for time off for a qualifying reason, and then it’s up to the employer to recognize that such a request may be covered by CFRA.

What Qualifies as a Request?

  • Clear Communication: The employee should communicate the need for leave, stating the reason that qualifies for CFRA protection, such as the birth of a child, a family member’s serious health condition, or their own health condition.
  • Providing Notice: For foreseeable leave, the employee should provide notice at least 30 days in advance when possible. For unexpected leave, the employee should notify the employer as soon as practicable.

Employer’s Obligation to Recognize CFRA Leave

  • Identification of CFRA Eligibility: Even if an employee doesn’t explicitly mention CFRA, the employer is required to identify leave requests that may qualify under CFRA.
  • Provision of Information: Upon identifying a potential CFRA leave situation, employers must inform the employee of their CFRA rights and responsibilities.

Situations Where Formal Requests May Not Be Required

There may be situations where an employee is unable to request leave due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a sudden medical emergency. In such cases, the employer should consider the situation’s facts and apply CFRA protections accordingly.

Communication is Key

Both the employer and the employee have responsibilities when it comes to CFRA leave:

  • Employees: Should be proactive in communicating their need for leave.
  • Employers: Must be vigilant in identifying potential CFRA leave situations and providing the necessary information to the employee.

The Bottom Line

Yes, an employee generally has to request leave to invoke CFRA protection, but the request doesn’t need to be in any special form. It’s more about the substance of the request rather than the form it takes. Employees don’t need to be legal experts, but they do need to communicate their need for leave clearly and timely.

Both parties should strive for open communication to ensure that the leave process goes smoothly and that the employee’s rights are protected. It’s also crucial for both employers and employees to understand their rights and obligations under the CFRA to prevent misunderstandings and ensure compliance with state law.

If there are any disputes or uncertainties regarding CFRA leave requests, consulting with a legal professional who specializes in employment law can provide clarity and direction.

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    Danny Yadidsion

    Labor Law PC

    Top rated employment and labor attorney in Los Angeles, California