Jackson's SB 63, New Parent Leave Act, Passes Off Assembly Floor

September 12, 2017

SACRAMENTO - SB 63, a bill authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to provide 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected maternity and paternity leave for Californians who work for smaller employers of 20 or more, passed the Assembly floor today on a 51-15 vote.

The bill now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.

SB 63, the New Parent Leave Act, ensures that more Californians can take leave to care for a newborn without the fear of losing their jobs. Under current law, only those who work for an employer of 50 or more are eligible for job-protected leave. However, more than 40 percent of California workers risk losing their jobs if they take advantage of California’s Paid Family Leave Program, which they are already paying into, because they work for smaller employers.

“Any parent knows that the birth of a child comes with many challenges. But losing a job should not be among them,” said Jackson. “Ensuring that we have strong maternity and paternity leave policies in place for Californians is an economic issue that affects the health and well-being of millions of California’s children and working families.”

Nationwide, momentum has grown for stronger family leave policies. SB 63, a priority bill of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, will 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 20-49 employees.

Research shows that the 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. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which supports the bill, recommends that healthy full-term infants not be enrolled in child care until they are at least 12 weeks old due to rapid developmental changes in their first weeks of life.

Last year Jackson authored SB 654, a similar bill that was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown out of a concern that small businesses could be impacted by disputes between employees and employers over new parent leave. His veto message stated that pre-litigation mediation was “a viable option that should be explored.”

Working with the Governor’s Office, changes were made to SB 63 to create a two-year pilot program within the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to allow employers and employees to mediate any disputes under this new parental leave program prior to litigation. These changes create a unique opportunity for mediation for small businesses with 20-49 employees.

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 losing their jobs.

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