SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Thursday ensuring millions more Californians can utilize Paid Family Leave benefits they pay for without the fear of job loss. SB 1383 was developed through the Paid Family Leave Task Force convened by the Administration last year and builds on previous work to extend Paid Family Leave benefits from six to eight weeks for each parent of a newborn.
“Californians deserve to be able to take time off to care for themselves or a sick family member without fearing they’ll lose their job,” said Newsom. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only further revealed the need for a family leave policy that truly serves families and workers, especially those who keep our economy running. This bill will ensure almost all Californians can access the time off they need to keep themselves and their communities healthy.”
SB 1383 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) ensures job-protected leave for Californians who work for an employer with five or more employees to bond with a newborn, care for a seriously ill family member, address a military exigency or care for their own illness. This aligns the employer size threshold under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) with the employer size threshold in Pregnancy Disability Leave, a program that has been in place since 1978.
Since California’s Paid Family Leave Program was enacted more than 15 years ago, lack of job protection under CFRA has prevented millions of workers from accessing their Paid Family Leave Program benefits due to the size of their employer. Currently, 40 percent of California workers are at risk of losing their jobs if they take leave to care for a seriously ill loved one or themselves because their employer is too small. SB 1383 will expand job-protected family leave and leave to care for one’s own illness to nearly 6 million more Californians. SB 1383 will ensure that California workers affected by COVID-19 can take time to care for themselves or a sick family member and keep their workplaces and communities healthy and safe.
“COVID-19 revealed how vulnerable we are when we do not support parents, and moms in particular, in their dual roles as caregivers and breadwinners,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “I am so proud that California is taking an important step to lift up women and families, to elevate the value of care and caregiving, and to get us closer to a California for All.”
The Governor also recently signed AB 1867, a budget trailer bill, to create a small employer family leave mediation pilot program. Under this first-of-its-kind program, small employers will be able to request free mediation before an employee is allowed to file a lawsuit in court over leave issues.
“With this bill, millions of hard-working Californians will finally be able to use the paid family leave benefits they pay for without fear of losing their jobs. I want to thank Governor Gavin Newsom for signing this critical legislation and for recognizing the caregiving responsibilities and challenges so many Californians face, as highlighted by this pandemic. Equitable family leave is critical to ensuring equality for women in the workplace, a strong start for children, the health and safety of our older Californians and for ensuring fathers are full participants in their children’s lives,” said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.
“No mom should have to risk losing her job to access family leave benefits that she’s already paid for out of her own paycheck,” said Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego.) “I’m proud to have been a principal co-author of SB 1383 that addresses this inequity and ensures workers can actually access the state’s paid family leave program to care for a loved one or bond with their newborn, without fear of being fired. This is a major step forward for working parents across the state, and will provide families with the protections they need during this public health crisis.”
In 2019, Governor Newsom expanded California paid family leave from six to eight weeks for each parent or caretaker of a newborn child, on top of the existing six to eight weeks of paid pregnancy disability leave already provided to birth mothers in California since the 1970s, allowing many children to benefit from as much as five months of critical bonding time with their parents due to paid family leave and paid pregnancy leave. This brought California closer to the goal of six months of paid family leave, helping more workers, especially lower-wage workers, who pay into the system take the benefits. The Administration also convened a Paid Family Leave Task Force, bringing together members of the business, worker and early learning communities, to provide policy recommendations to expand California’s Paid Family Leave Program.