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What differentiates FMLA from short-term disability?

A recent illness or injury prevents you from working, and you want to approach your California-based employer about taking time off. You are not sure whether to use your disability plan or invoke the Family Medical Leave Act to best protect your job while you recover.

An article from Chron dives into the differences between federal law and insurance contracts for ill and injured workers. Determine which option best suits your situation and protects your rights as an employee.


The primary reason the FMLA exists is to prevent businesses from terminating hurt or ill employees who cannot work. While you cannot lose your job while on leave under the FMLA, your employer does not have a legal obligation to pay you for missed days.

If you take your leave under your disability plan, you may receive payment equal to roughly 60% of your base salary. Check to see whether you worked long enough with your employer to qualify for short-term disability.


If you anticipate using all your available sick days to recover from sickness or injury, consider tapping into your personal disability plan or your company-sponsored plan. If you work for a company with at least 50 employees, it must adhere to FMLA regulations. To qualify for the act, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months and have clocked-in at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months.


How long you may take off under short-term disability depends on your specific plan. You may take off 12 weeks under the FMLA for each calendar year, spreading out those 12 weeks as you see fit. Ask your employer if you must give notice before taking your leave under the federal act.

Educate yourself on federal and state employee leave acts to prevent your employer from violating your rights. You deserve to recover without fear of unjustly losing your job.


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