Law Authored by Jackson to Strengthen Paid Family Leave Takes Effect Today

July 01, 2014

SACRAMENTO – Today, a law authored by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to strengthen California’s Paid Family Leave Program by allowing workers to receive benefits while also caring for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and in-laws takes effect.

July 1 also marks the 10-year anniversary of the implementation of the Paid Family Leave Program. A decade ago, California became the first state in the nation to enact a program to provide partial pay to workers – funded entirely by employee payroll deductions - to take up to six weeks off to bond with a new child or provide care for a seriously ill family member.

According to a report released today from the California Senate Office of Research, 1.8 million claims for Paid Family Leave have been filed over the past decade, with an increasing number of men using the program to bond with a new child. A full copy of the report is available here.

“A decade ago, our state boldly took the step of being the first in the nation to offer what I believe should be the right of all our citizens – the right to care for their close family members for a period of time without jeopardizing their livelihoods or economic well-being, “ Jackson said. “Over 10 years, particularly as we’ve seen a growth in two-income families, this law has been a valuable way to balance work and caregiving responsibilities. As this program now enters its second decade, it’s important that we continue to get the word out, so that even more Californians know that they have a right to use this program to care for their loved ones.”

Funded entirely by employee payroll deductions through an expansion of the State Disability Insurance (SDI) system, Paid Family Leave provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement benefits per year. It compensates workers through money they’ve set aside in their paychecks for caregiving responsibilities.

According to the California Senate Office of Research, more than 200,000 paid family leave claims are filed annually, and the proportion of claims filed by men has nearly doubled from 17.3 percent in 2004 to 30.2 percent in 2013. However, women still file more than twice as many claims as men to bond with a new child, and the duration of their claims is usually longer.

The report also found that economic differences exist. The number of claims filed by individuals in top income brackets (over $72,000) was greater than those filed by individuals with incomes in the lowest brackets ($12,000 or less).
Until Jackson’s Senate Bill 770, signed into law by Governor Brown in September of 2013 and taking effect today, Paid Family Leave used to only cover leave to care for a parent, child, spouse, or registered domestic partner. 

Senate Bill 770 expanded the definition of family to include caring for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and in-laws to more accurately reflect the caregiving responsibilities of California families. California has the second-highest percentage of multi-generational households in the country.

Monterey County had the highest per-capita number of Paid Family Leave claims (10.6 per 1,000 people), followed by Colusa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and San Benito counties, according to the Senate Office of Research report.

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