Jackson Bill To Strengthen Job-Protected Bonding Time for New Parents Passes Off Senate Floor

June 01, 2016

SACRAMENTO – As momentum grows for stronger family leave policies across the country, a bill by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to guarantee job-protected leave for new parents who work for smaller companies passed off the Senate floor. The vote was 22-14.

The bill now heads to State Assembly.

Jackson’s Senate Bill 1166, the New Parent Leave Act, would guarantee 12 weeks of job-protected maternity and paternity leave for most Californians, benefiting new mothers, fathers and adoptive parents. SB 1166 addresses an inequity in new parent leave laws. While employees of companies of 50 or more employees are guaranteed 12 weeks of job-protected family leave under state and federal law, those same protections are not extended to the more than 40% of Californians who work for smaller businesses with less than 50 employees.

SB 1166 will ensure that all Californians who work for companies of 10 or more can take 12 weeks of new parent leave without losing their jobs. To qualify for the leave, the employee must have worked for their employer for a full year and more than half-time.

“Far too many new parents are faced with the impossible decision of having to choose between the well-being of their newborn baby and their economic stability,” said Jackson. “Hard-working California families deserve better, and our youngest children deserve better.”

Without job protection, millions of Californians who work for smaller companies cannot take advantage of the state’s Paid Family Leave Program, even though they pay into it through employee payroll deductions. The Paid Family Leave Program provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement for some caregiving responsibilities, including care for a newborn or adopted child, through the State Disability Insurance Program.

A recently signed New York paid family leave law provides 12 weeks of paid, job-protected leave regardless of employer size. In Washington D.C., all employees have 16 weeks of job-protected family leave.  In Maine, workers at companies with 15 or more employees have 10 weeks of job-protected leave. Minnesota offers 6 weeks of job-protected leave for workers at companies with 21 or employees, and Oregon provides 12 weeks of job-protected leave for workers at companies with 25 or more employees.

This 12-week new parent leave timeframe is supported by research.

For new birth moms, having less than 12 weeks of new parent leave is associated with increased symptoms of postpartum depression. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy  full-term infants wait until 12 weeks of age to enroll in child care due to rapid developmental changes and the risk of illness. Research shows that fathers who take family leave are more engaged with their newborns, and that children whose parents take leave enjoy better health and higher graduation rates.

SB 1166 is a priority of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus as part of their Stronger California legislative agenda this year.

Last year, Jackson authored SB 358, the California Fair Pay Act, the strongest equal pay law for women in the country. The bill took effect January 1 of this year.

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