Pension & Benefits News California bill would expand unpaid family leave to care for more family members
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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

California bill would expand unpaid family leave to care for more family members

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

The California Legislature has finalized a bill that would expand the California Family Rights Act to make it an unlawful employment practice for employers with five or more employees to refuse to grant an employee’s request to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period to bond with the employee’s new child or care for themselves or a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner, as specified. The bill has been sent to Governor Gavin Newsom.

Important changes. Under existing law, family and medical leave requirements extend only to the employee’s self, child, parent, or spouse. The employer coverage threshold is currently set at 50 or more employees. Among other things, Senate Bill 1383 expands the leave to include a grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner. The bill also reduces the employer coverage threshold to five or more employees.

Under the bill, which applies also to employees of state and local political subdivisions and cities, an employer that employs both parents of a child would be required to grant leave to each employee. Currently, the employer is only required in those circumstances to grant both employees a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during the 12-month period.

The measure, S.B. 1383, was enrolled on September 4, after clearing the Assembly with a 46-16 vote on August 31 and gaining approval in the Senate by a 21-12 ballot on July 2.

Military leave. The legislation would make it an unlawful employment practice for employers to refuse to grant an employee’s request to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period due to a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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