New Parent Leave Bill, A Women's Caucus Priority, Revived in Last Weeks of Session

August 12, 2016

SACRAMENTO – A California Legislative Women’s Caucus priority bill to give job-protected new parent leave to more Californians is being resuscitated in the final weeks of the legislative session with the help of Assembly and Senate leadership.

Senate Bill 654, as proposed to be amended, will be authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), chair of the Women’s Caucus. Identical to a prior version of the bill heard earlier this year in both houses, the New Parent Leave Act will require that companies of 10 employees or more guarantee 12 weeks of job-protected maternity and paternity leave upon the birth or adoption of a new child.

This would allow these employees to access the state’s Paid Family Leave Program, which these employees already pay into through payroll deductions, without fear of losing their jobs. Amendments to SB 654 are expected to be taken up by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), vice-chair of the Women’s Caucus, for a vote on Thursday.

The bill will then be referred to the Assembly Labor and Employment Relations Committee, where it will go before the committee for a vote. Should it pass out of committee, it will head to the Assembly for a floor vote.

“Paid family leave is a vital issue that will make a huge difference in the lives of California’s working parents. I’m pleased to join with the Women’s Caucus to ensure this issue receives the full consideration it deserves, “ said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount).

“Thanks to the assistance of Assembly Speaker Rendon, and his strong leadership and support of the Women’s Caucus and California women and families, as well as the unwavering support of Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, this important measure is being given a second chance,” said Jackson. “No one should have to choose between caring for a newborn and keeping their jobs. 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.”

“The reintroduction of the parental leave bill is the right thing to do. I look forward to seeing it go through the process and I hope my colleagues will give it due consideration,” said Garcia. “Thanks to Assembly leadership for restoring faith that women count in the Legislature.”

An identical, prior version of the bill, SB 1166 (Jackson), was heard in full committee hearings in the Senate and voted off the Senate floor, but died in the Assembly Labor and Employment Relations Committee, then chaired by Assemblymember Roger Hernández, in June.