Are there Laws about taking a Leave of Absence from your job?

My SO has been at his job for almost 15 years and just last month took 3 months vacation and one week leave of absence to go perform with the Cirque du Soleil. He just returned to work this week and the Cirque called again today and asked him to do a 4 week run in Phoenix. My SO’s boss said he will most likely lose his job if he chooses to go. Are there any laws that would protect him?

You don’t give your location, but since I am in the U.S, I’m going to assume you are also.

I’m not aware of any laws that would protect your SO’s job if he took a personal leave of absence to perform in the circus.

There is FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993) which guarantees job protection for up to 12 weeks for certain qualifying events like disability, birth or adoption, or to care for a family member, but joining the circus is conspicuously absent from the regulations.

If your SO has used up all his earned vacation time and is requesting his second unpaid leave in a year, his employer is well within its rights to terminate him. Whether or not it is a good business decision to let someone with 15 years experience go is something they have to determine, however.

Having said all that, many states have additional leave laws. But I’ve never heard of any that would apply here.

Skammer
Leaves & Disabilities administrator

Maybe he could get his boss some free tickets. :slight_smile:

Thanks Skammer. I pretty much thought the same thing. It’s a huge risk to take. He hates his job - He loves the Cirque. Does he risk it all for a temporary dream only to hope they hire him full time?

Oh and fatdave, his boss has already been promised comp tickets. We were thinking maybe a personal call from the tour manager to his boss would help?

On a side note: I leave for Vegas next week to audition for Cirque myself - they invited me to audition. So maybe there’s something in the works we just don’t know about.

Life is very strange.

DREAMER, think about it from your SO’s employer’s point of view. This is a great think for DSO, but they’d be looking at a fourth month (plus a little) with no guy doing DSO’s job, and others covering for him. I sympathize with DSO’s situation, but there’s another side to it as well.

But no, AFAIK, there is no law to “protect” DSO in the event he leaves one job for an extended period of time in order to take another one. Surely you see that such a “protection” to him would effectively penalize his employer. It’s DSO’s decision to go, not the employer’s, but it’s the employer who must either do without him, have others work harder to cover him, or hire someone temporary to replace him.

I’m not being critical of DSO’s desire to go, but I do think it’s probably unrealistic to expect his employer to do anything more for him. I envy you your chance to “run away to the circus,” though I know how scary it must be to leave a secure job for one that might not be. But – What an opportunity! I hope you go for it. Not everyone gets a chance to chase their dreams. :slight_smile:

DREAMER, think about it from your SO’s employer’s point of view. This is a great think for DSO, but they’d be looking at a fourth month (plus a little) with no guy doing DSO’s job, and others covering for him. I sympathize with DSO’s situation, but there’s another side to it as well.

But no, AFAIK, there is no law to “protect” DSO in the event he leaves one job for an extended period of time in order to take another one. Surely you see that such a “protection” to him would effectively penalize his employer. It’s DSO’s decision to go, not the employer’s, but it’s the employer who must either do without him, have others work harder to cover him, or hire someone temporary to replace him.

I’m not being critical of DSO’s desire to go, but I do think it’s probably unrealistic to expect his employer to do anything more for him. I envy you your chance to “run away to the circus,” though I know how scary it must be to leave a secure job for one that might not be. But – What an opportunity! I hope you go for it. Not everyone gets a chance to chase their dreams. :slight_smile:

Dreamer I do not know what state your are in, but if your SO quits to join the circus and then it does not work out he may not be able to collect from unemployment but if his boss fires him he would have a better chance. I’m not giving advise but I would take a leave and if they fire him they fire him but do not let him quit.

No, there are no laws in the US that require an employer to keep you on the payroll if you skip out on work for a month. They do have to give family leave if you have kids, but they aren’t required to just offer you unlimited time off if you want it. Look at this from their perspective; your husband has already used up all of his vacation plus a week for the year, and now wants to knock off for another month. Who’s going to do his work while he’s gone? Is he going to promise to them that he will return to work for them at the end of the month (it doesn’t sound like that from your post), or does he just want them to hold his job open indefinately when they don’t even know if he’s coming back?

Following MannyL’s line of thought, you might want to find out what being fired for cause might do to any unemployment benefits.

IIRC, Dreamer is in CA.

and, I suspect that “job abandonment” is what we are looking at if SO does not quit, and abandonment = termination with cause, thus no unemployment benefits (which, in CA, aren’t that good anyway).

I will insert this here, with the caveat that, given the current recession/depression, running away to join the circus (even a good one) is risky:

There are two kinds of regrets:

  1. “I wish I hadn’t done that?”

  2. “I wonder what would have happened if I had tried that when I had the chance?”

choose wisely, cricket.

You are correct happyheathen we are in California. And yes, your two choices are exactly what we are facing. His boss said this to him when he was filling out another leave of absence form on Friday. He stretched out his hands far and wide and said “there are this many musicians in this world” then he pinched his two fingers together and said “there are this many opportunities”.

Everyone we have talked to has said to be successful you have to take risks. Everyone says go for it. Our hearts say go for it. We both know if he says no to Cirque, the minute he goes back to his crappy job he’ll be kicking himself in the butt. He has told me every day for years how he hates that place. He’s got a gift for guitar, I’ve got a gift in my voice. Is it crazy to think that it’s possible we might really be ready to live out our dreams and that fate is going to take place?

OK, this is getting off the topic of the GQ so I’ll stop now :). The one thing we have to fall back on is that he is a member of the Musician’s Union. We’re not too sure how they can help if need be, but after having a gig with Cirque on his resume it shouldn’t be too hard to get a good gig somewhere else.

Thanks for all your insight.

good luck!

Some questions I’d ask:

*If he leaves his current job, how hard will it be for SO to get another job in his field should the Cirque thing fall through?
*Is it possible that he can work as a contractor in his field which will give him pay during the off times but allow him some degree of flexibility?
*Does Cirque offer benefits, such as health insurance? If they do not, are you (dreamer) willing to work full-time in order to get these benefits? You’ll have a year that you’ll be eligible for COBRA benefits, but these can be expensive.
*I have no earthly idea how much Cirque pays its performers, but does it come close to supporting a family? What is the top pay for a Cirque performer?
*How rare is it to become a “regular” Cirque peformer?
*Is Cirque covered by Workman’s Comp should SO be injured while performing?

If there’s an opening for his job anywhere he should be able to easily get it. He’s a valued employee where he is now so he should get a good recommendation.

No. I seriously doubt they would do that.

Yes, Cirque has very good health coverage and if he or I were employed full time with them I’m sure we both would be covered.

Cirque pays it’s performers very well. The only problem for our situation is that we have an apartment that we pay about $1500 a month for and most artists on the touring shows don’t have rent payments. Cirque pays for all lodging, they have a traveling kitchen with them that is available 6 days a week and they compensate you when the kitchen is closed. There were quite a few families on tour that we met that seem to get along pretty well. I don’t know the top pay amount but I know some of the “star performers” are doing very well.

I don’t think it’s “rare” at all. There just has to be an opening and if you’re what they are looking for then you are in. They say the average life of a performer is 2 years though I’m pretty sure they don’t include the musicians in that average.

Yes. The guitarist who my SO is filling in for is being taken care of.

We’ll know more in the next few days so I’ll keep you posted.

I just wanted to tell you guys that my SO’s boss kindly gave him two more weeks leave of absence. The Cirque people are happy, we are happy, and all is well. :slight_smile: