It is important to remember that while any kind of unpaid leave that your supervisor or “hiring authority” at a state agency or any other public employer may be able to provide, if you are a qualified employee with a disability or serious medical condition, who is or may be entitled to ADA or FEHA reasonable accommodations, you might be entitled to leave as a matter of law. This is regardless of whether your supervisor or even the chief of your department believes whether you should or should not be provided with that leave, and whether granting leave is discretionary. In other words, your employer is not allowed to deny the disability rights afforded to you by federal or state law with its own internal policies.
To avoid being deemed AWOL (absent without leave), it is important that you provide all the necessary medical documentation to support your need for medical leave, preferably before or as soon as possible after you start your medical leave. This is because some supervisors seem to love to invoke AWOL termination just as soon as they possibly can, even though doing that is completely discretionary and they could choose to give you the benefit of the doubt and wait till they learn more about the reasons for your absence.
One reason that some managers may be in such a hurry to AWOL separate an employee, is because it could be a convenient way for them to get rid of an employee who they don’t like and don’t want around. However, if you make sure that your disability and need for accommodations, including medical leave and the necessary duration of that leave is well documented by your employer before you go on leave, you will have options to seek compensation for violations of your disability rights, if your employer still decides to invoke AWOL termination, despite knowing everything about your disability.