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Understanding California Military Spouse Leave

— October 26, 2023

Protecting your rights as a military spouse is critical for yourself and the well-being of your family.

As of 2022, California has over 760,000 national security jobs, according to the CA Military Council report. Of these jobs, 162,000 are active military members, many of whom have a registered domestic partner, translating into a considerable community of military families in California. When your spouse is called to serve in the military, it often elicits many feelings and emotions, from pride and excitement to concern and uncertainty. During these times, families need support systems, including legal protections that allow the spouse remaining at home to manage their work-life balance. In California, Military Spouse Leave is one such protection, and understanding how it works can provide peace of mind to our Golden State service members and military families.

What is California Military Spouse Leave?

Let us start by defining Military Spouse Leave. California Military Spouse Leave is a state-specific advantage designed to assist spouses of military personnel who are deployed or on leave. Military Spousal Leave provides you with up to ten days of unpaid but job-protected leave. It acknowledges the challenges these families face and aims to equip them with job protection during challenging and sometimes difficult times.

Eligibility Requirements: To qualify for California Military Spouse Leave, you must meet certain criteria or eligibility requirements:

1.   Marriage to a Service Member: The employee must be legally married to a service member. Their military service member spouse (spouse meaning a registered domestic partner) must be part of the US Armed Forces, the National Guard, or the Reserves.

2.   Deployment or Leave: The service member must be on deployment or leave related to military service.

3.   Covered Employers: Military Spouse Leave typically applies to employers with 25 or more employees.

Understanding Leave Eligibility and Entitlements

Duration of Leave: Employees who are eligible are entitled to up to ten days of unpaid leave per deployment or leave of their military spouse. The provided leave period can be utilized for diverse occasions and purposes, from spending time with your spouse before deployment, managing household affairs, or assisting children during the spouse’s absence.

Notice and Documentation: While Military Spouse Leave is valuable, employers may require employees to provide reasonable notification and documentation. The provided reasonable notice enables employers to plan for the employee’s absence and ensures compliance with the law.

What Happens If You’re Denied Military Spouse Leave?

Employee Rights: If your employer denies you California Military Spouse Leave or makes it challenging for you to take the leave you’re entitled to, it’s essential to understand your rights:

·   Seeking Legal Counsel: Consult a skilled and seasoned employment attorney who can sufficiently assess your situation. A lawyer can then guide you through filing a claim, documenting your claim, sending correspondence to your employer when needed in cases of noncompliance or lack of acknowledgment, and aid you in selecting the most promising course of action based on you and your family’s circumstances.

·   Document Everything: Keep records of any interactions with your employer regarding your leave request. Documentation can come in many diverse forms, some that you deem as seeming unofficial but actually matter when arranging and filing a claim, including emails, letters, or any other formats of communication.

·   Filing The Complaint: Should your rights be violated, you can file an objection via a complaint through California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Going through this process can be quite intricate, and it’s crucial to present the facts accurately and represent how your rights were infringed–this is where having an employment law attorney on your side can really make a difference. They can be a valuable asset, helping you ensure that your claim is approved and that you receive the compensation you deserve.

·   Exploring Legal Remedies: Depending on the circumstances, you may have legal remedies available, such as pursuing a claim against your employer for wrongful denial of leave.

Different Types of Leave for Military Spouses

Military Service Members Report High Usage of Tobacco Products
Photo by Benjamin Faust on Unsplash

Unpaid and Paid Leave: When reviewing California Military Spouse Leave, it is essential to note you may be eligible for other paid or unpaid leave. These may include:

·   Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Under FMLA, eligible employees can assume up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for family and medical reasons. Such grounds include situations where a military spouse needs time off for issues related to their service member’s deployment or return.

·   California Family Rights Act (CFRA): Similar to FMLA but with some differences, CFRA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected recess for eligible employees. It’s there for when you need to take time off work to bond with a new child or look after a family member who’s seriously ill.

·   Paid Family Leave (PFL): California’s Paid Family Leave program offers partial wage replacement benefits for employees who need time off to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child. While this isn’t military-specific, it may prove useful in many circumstances and situations a military family may face.

When to Get in Touch With an Employment Law Lawyer

California Military Spouse Leave is a vital benefit that supports the families of those who serve our nation. Understanding your rights as a military family and the eligibility criteria for potential benefits is paramount to promising you can access them in times of need. If you encounter challenges in obtaining your entitled leave, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel. Protecting your rights as a military spouse is critical for yourself and the well-being of your family.

For more information or assistance with California Military Spouse Leave, schedule a confidential and free consultation with a trusted and experienced San Bernardino employment law attorney. Our skilled employment lawyers are here to support you through the complexities of employment law and help ensure your rights are upheld and that you receive any benefits you deserve.

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