Jackson Bill to Provide Job-Protected Leave for New Parents Passes Off Senate Floor

May 30, 2017

SACRAMENTO – As momentum grows nationwide for stronger family leave policies, and more two-income families struggle to balance work and family responsibilities, a bill by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to ensure that more Californians can take leave to care for a newborn without the fear of losing their jobs has passed off the Senate floor. The vote was 25-13.

A priority of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, the bill now heads to the State Assembly.

Senate Bill 63, the New Parent Leave Act, will provide 12 weeks of job-protected maternity and paternity leave for up to 2.7 million more California parents who work for smaller companies with 20 to 49 employees. Under current law, only those who work for an employer of 50 or more are eligible for job-protected leave.

SB 63 continues Jackson’s long-standing work toward building more family-friendly workplaces in California and would allow more employees to utilize their Paid Family Leave benefits without fear of losing their jobs. California’s Paid Family Leave Program, the first in the country when it passed in 2002 and was enacted in 2004, is entirely employee funded and provides six weeks of partial wage replacement to workers for caregiving responsibilities.

Research shows that these first 12 weeks of life are critical to a child’s early brain development, and that parental leave is associated with improved maternal and child health, a longer duration of breastfeeding, and improved mental health in new mothers.

“Any new parent knows that the birth of a new baby comes with a host of challenges. But losing a job should never be among those challenges,“ said Jackson. “Ensuring that we have strong maternity and paternity leave policies in place is an economic issue that affects the health and well-being of millions of California’s children and working families, and we have to do better. With more women in the workforce than ever before, and two-income families struggling to balance work and family responsibilities, parental leave ensures that parents stay in the workforce, that both mothers and fathers have essential time to bond with their newborns, and that businesses are able to recruit and retain loyal employees.”

“The United States is the only developed county in the world that does not guarantee parental leave, but California took a crucial step forward to support working families today.  Parents should not have to sacrifice their jobs and long term financial security simply to care for their new children,” said Julia Parish, staff attorney with Legal Aid at Work, a sponsor of the bill.

SB 63 is a reintroduction of a similar bill authored by Jackson last year that was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. 

Last year, New York passed a comprehensive paid family leave law that will eventually provide 12 weeks of job-protected leave for all employees, regardless of employer size. In addition, nine other states and the District of Columbia have job-protected parental leave laws that cover employees who work for smaller businesses.

According to a 2011 study, among those who were aware of California’s Paid Family Leave benefits and needed leave but did not apply for benefits, 37 percent said they did not apply because they feared they would be fired or face other negative consequences at work.

recent opinion poll, released from Small Business Majority and the Center for American Progress, shows that a vast majority of small business owners – 71 percent -- support expanding job protection for family and medical leave to businesses with 20 or more employees. 

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

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