Jackson's New Parent Leave Bill Passes Off Assembly Floor

August 31, 2016

SACRAMENTO – As momentum grows for stronger family leave policies across the nation, a California Legislative Women’s Caucus priority bill to provide job-protected new parent leave for up to 2.7 million more Californians has passed off the Assembly floor on a bipartisan 52-19 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate for a final vote.

Senate Bill 654 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the New Parent Leave Act, will provide six weeks of unpaid job-protected maternity and paternity leave for employees of 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.

This bill would allow these employees to access the state’s Paid Family Leave Program, which these employees already pay for through payroll deductions, without fear of losing their jobs. 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.

“No one should have to choose between caring for a newborn and keeping their jobs, “ said Jackson, who is chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. “And yet, because of an inequity in our job-protection laws, mothers and fathers who work for companies of 49 or fewer employees could be fired for utilizing our state’s Paid Family Leave Program to bond with their new child, even though they already pay into the program.”

SB 654 would give job-protected parental leave to up to 2.7 million more Californians while impacting just six percent of California businesses. Recognizing the importance of small businesses to our economy, Jackson recently scaled back the bill to provide six weeks of leave, instead of the bill’s original 12 weeks, and to apply to companies with 20 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, instead of 10.

“I believe that employees who are able to take this leave will be loyal employees and better parents and our children will have a stronger and more supported start,” said Jackson.

“We are thrilled that SB 654 is one step closer to becoming law,” said Sharon Terman, director of the Work and Family Program at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. “This bill will allow parents to be there for their children when they need them most without risking their jobs. No parent should have to choose between the well-being of their child and their livelihood.”

With this bill, California will join nine other states and the District of Columbia in extending job-protected parental leave to small business employees. To be eligible for the leave, the employee must have worked for the company for at least a year and for at least half-time.