Governor Signs Jackson Bill to Expand Paid Family Leave for Military Families

September 27, 2018

SACRAMENTO –Governor Brown signed legislation today by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to expand California’s Paid Family Leave Program to cover the needs that arise when a military family member is deployed overseas. SB 1123 allows qualified employees to receive paid family leave when they must take time off of work to take care of critical planning needs in advance of a family member being deployed overseas or once they return home.

When a loved one is deployed, it can involve significant financial, legal, emotional and logistical preparations for their absence. This includes taking care of everything from financial arrangements, wills, and powers of attorneys; to attending informational briefings and ceremonial events related to the deployment; to finding alternate school and day care arrangements for affected children; to attending counseling; and making alternative eldercare arrangements for a military member’s aging parents.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees who work for private employers of 50 or more employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child, for personal illness, and for family caregiving responsibilities. About 10 years ago, the FMLA was expanded to include specific kinds of military family leave.

One of those leaves is known as “qualifying exigency leave,” and allows for job-protected but unpaid time off from work to assist a spouse, parent, son or daughter who has been notified of an impending deployment to a foreign country.

SB 1123 expands California’s entirely employee-funded Paid Family Leave Program to allow six weeks of partial wage replacement for qualifying military exigency leave needs arising from the overseas deployment of a spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child. While taking time from work, these qualified employees will receive 60-70 percent of their wages, dependent on their income.

“It is not just our military service members who sacrifice so much for our country, their immediate family members do, too. It is our responsibility to ease the transition as families prepare for deployment,” said Senator Jackson.  “SB 1123 will ensure family members are supported as they take the time they need to prepare for the challenges ahead.”

The bill goes into effect on January 1, 2021.

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