Jackson Bill To Provide Job-Protected Leave for New Parents Passes Out of Committee

March 22, 2017

SACRAMENTO – As momentum continues to grow nationwide for stronger family leave policies, 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 out of the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee. The vote was 4-1.

The bill now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 63, the New Parent Leave Act, would 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 job loss. California’s Paid Family Leave Program 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 changes and 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.”

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

“I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor to reach an agreement on this important issue,” Jackson said. “With more women in the workforce than ever before, supporting working families through more family-friendly workplace policies is an economic issue and an issue of national importance. As many states, private companies and local governments move forward with strong policies for family leave, California, once at the vanguard of family leave policies, cannot afford to be left behind. “

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.

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