Rewire News: California Workers May Soon Take Family Leave Without Losing Their Jobs

June 20, 2017

When Alfonso Garcia’s daughter was born, his employer, a small San Jose, California, area tow truck company, turned down his request for two weeks off, even though Garcia qualified for paid parental leave.

Garcia worked for a small company, one with fewer than 50 employees. If Garcia took time off, there was no guarantee under existing law he’d have a job when he returned.

“I felt stressed out,” Garcia, 27, told Rewire. “I was worried I’d lose my job, and then I wouldn’t be able to care for my family,” said Garcia, the breadwinner for his wife and newborn daughter.

A new bill in the state’s Democratic-held legislature would change that, guaranteeing roughly 2.7 million California parents who work for small companies the opportunity to bond with birth, foster, and adoptive children. SB 63 extends job protections to small employers, requiring businesses with between 20 and 50 workers to allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of leave to spend with a new child—without fear of losing a job. Right now, only employers with 50 or more workers are required to guarantee a job.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the bill’s sponsor, said state law hasn’t kept up with the desire among parents to bond with their new children.

“More and more moms are in the workplace, and more dads are wanting to be involved with their children,” she told Rewire. “Many of our policies have remained frozen in time.”

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