The San Diego business lawyers at Gehres Law Group, P.C. assist companies and employees in understanding their rights and obligations. Consulting regularly with an attorney is important to monitor changes in the law. One such change occurred recently when California extended family leave to millions of new workers.
California Extends Family Leave
California has long been among the minority of states that provide broader protection for employees with short-term disabilities and family-care needs than the federal government offers. Now, California has once again expanded the basic protections guaranteed by the federal government so workers in the state have more rights than workers in most other states.
This time, California expanded the rights of workers in connection with family leave. Two decades ago, the Clinton administration passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provided federal protection to employees who needed to take unpaid family leave. Under the FMLA, workers employed by companies that had 50 or more employees were guaranteed the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain qualifying family events such as the birth of a child. While employers are not required to offer paid leave (California does provide separate disability benefits paid from a state fund), the FMLA prohibits certain employers from terminating or retaliating against a worker for taking up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain types of personal and family member medical conditions, including the birth of a child. For more information on covered conditions and family members covered by the Act, click here.
When the FMLA was passed, California matched its state laws to the federal regulations. However, no protections in the form of guaranteed unpaid leave were provided to employees who work for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees in the state. As the Sacramento Bee explained, this left millions of California workers without a guaranteed right to take time off if they added a new baby to their family.
This has now changed. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 63, which will take effect on January 1, 2018, and which will make 2.8 million small business workers in California eligible for unpaid family leave. These workers, like those previously covered by the FMLA, will be protected from adverse employment actions as a result of taking leave. Eligible workers must work for companies that employee at least 20 people, and they must have at least a year of experience. They also must have worked for at least 1,250 hours with their employer to qualify for leave. The bill not only covers situations when a new baby is born to a family, but also extends to situations when parents have adopted a child or where a foster child is placed with the parent-employee.
California workers also receive broader protection in another important way. In 2004, California had enacted a law allowing parents who take time off to care for children to apply for and receive disability compensation. Since workers of small businesses were previously not protected from losing their jobs if they took time off, many employees who worked for small companies were not able to take the leave and also take advantage of the disability benefits due to a fear they would not have a job to return to. With their jobs now guaranteed, new parents at small companies can take off that 12 weeks to spend with their child, can receive unemployment disability benefits during that time period, and can return to work without fear their position will have been filled.
Getting Help from San Diego Business Lawyers
The San Diego business lawyers at Gehres Law Group, P.C. provide representation to companies who wish to ensure they are in full compliance with all updated laws and policies applicable to their organization. Our legal team can also provide representation to employees who are concerned their rights may have been violated. To learn what our firm can do to help you or your organization, give us a call at 858-964-2314 or contact us online today for a complimentary consultation.