03 Nov New California Law on Parental Leave
The governor of California recently signed into law S.B. 63, which changes the rights of employees and obligations of employers of small businesses regarding what leave can be taken following a family medical need. The law is a new approach to parental leave that substantially changes the rights and obligations that currently exist under state and federal law. These changes have been in the works for a long time, and the new law is being hailed by activists as a significant gain for worker’s rights.
On the federal level, the Family Medical Leave Act requires employers to provide their employees with job-protected leave in the event of a family birth, illness, or other covered event. The federal Act does not protect all people, however. It is only applicable when the employer:
- Is a private sector employer, employing 50 or more employees for 20 or more workweeks in a calendar year; or
- Is a public agency, or other government employer, regardless of the number of employees.
In addition, not all employees are eligible for coverage under the federal Act. An employee is only eligible for coverage if he or she:
- Works for a covered employer; and
- Has been in the employer’s employ for at least 12 months; and
- Has at least 1,250 hours of service for that employer; and
- Works where the employer has at least 50 employees working within a 75 mile radius.
As you can see, these restrictions can create situations where an employee would not be covered under the federal Act and would not be able to take leave to help with a family emergency. That is where this new California law comes in.
What the New California Law Accomplishes
The new law extends the benefits of the Family Medical Leave Act to employees of small businesses. Under the new provisions, any employer with 20 to 49 employees would have to provide the leave. In addition, the new law extends the time an employee would be allowed to take off while keeping his or her job. Moreover, under the new law, an employee can take up to 12 weeks of covered leave to take care of a family obligation such as a birth, adoption, or other serious event.
The law also keeps some of the same requirements as the Family Medical Leave Act. For example, in order to be covered, an employee must have been working for an employer for at least 12 months and for 1,250 service hours immediately preceding the request for leave. Employers will be required to provide the same protections, as well, such as keeping the same level of pay and benefits as they had at the time of taking leave.
What Your Company Needs to do to Prepare
If you are a small business in California, with less than 50 employees, then this is the first time you will have to deal with this issue. As a result, it will be new and different, and you will likely need to contact the right kind of legal counsel for instructions on how to proceed. That is where we can help.
At the Royse Law Firm, we have a practice dedicated to employment law, designed to serve companies of all sizes. We know what policies apply to your company, and what your company needs to do to be compliant. As your legal needs change along with the ever changing federal and state laws, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you soon.