California Passes Expanded Parental Leave Act
Under a new law Governor Jerry Brown signed on Thursday, approximately 2.8 million California mothers and fathers will gain the right to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to bond with their newborns.
Senate Bill 63, which takes effect January 1, 2018 will become law more than two decades after federal law gave workers at larger businesses with at least 50 employees similar unpaid family leave protections. California lawmakers had subsequently matched the state’s law to the federal guidelines, but did not extend the benefit to employees of small businesses, until now. At least nine other states offer job-protected family leave for small business workers.
The California Employment Lawyers Association, which co-sponsored the bill, said the new law will also give workers greater access to wage replacement benefits. In 2004, California enacted the first paid family leave program in the country. That law allowed parents who take parental leave to apply for unemployment disability compensation. However, the program did nothing to protect the thousands of small business workers who were not, under state law, guaranteed their job back upon returning to work.
Under SB63, it will mandate that businesses employing 20+ employees grant new parents up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within one year of their child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. The law covers employees with more than 12 months of service with their employers, who have at least 1,250 hours of service with their employers during the previous 12-month period, and who work at a worksite that has at least 20 employees within 75 miles.
In addition, employers are required to maintain and pay for medical coverage under a group health plan for an eligible employee who takes parental leave for the duration of the leave (not to exceed 12 weeks over the course of a 12-month period), starting on the date the leave begins.
The law takes effect January 1, 2018. However, certain changes to the law will not go into effect until January 1, 2020.
If you have questions about the new Parental Leave Act, call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.