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FMLA & Company Policy

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I work for County Mental Health in California. I am 7 1/2 months pregnant and am trying to map out my maternity leave. I understand the FMLA and have read my company's Family Leave Policy. I have also spoken to the employee benefits department and my department's HR Director. The County's policy lists 'birth' as a qualifying event for Family Leave, pursuant to FMLA and goes on to state that eligible 'employees must first exhaust their accrued sick leave, vacation, compensatory time on the books to cover all or any part of the 12 weeks allowed.' It mentions that employees cannot be required to use vacation time to cover pregnancy disability leave and that pregnancy disability leave runs concurrently with FMLA. My problem is that I am being told that once my doctor releases me from disability, even if it falls short of the 12 weeks to which I am entitled, I may no longer use the sick time I have and must begin using vacation time or go unpaid. Nowhere in the policy does it make reference to such a change in how one is paid, nor does it link this policy to the cessation of disability or the County's sick leave policy. The sick leave policy does require a bonafide illness. The family leave policy even clarifies that 'in the case of employees requesting family leave to adopt, or place a foster child, only vacation and/or compensatory time is authorized.' This statement therefore suggests that in other cases, like birth or serious illness for instance, sick time would be authorized. In the whole scheme of things, the difference in interpretation will cost me at least two weeks and as much as four weeks paid time off with my baby. That's a big deal. Do you think I have a valid arguement?

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