Time to Make Job Protected Family Leave a Priority!

September 7, 2016

The push for stronger family leave policies is growing across the country, and a bill is making its way through the California State Legislature to strengthen leave laws for new parents. California was once the nationwide leader on family leave, but California is now falling behind other states on an issue that is critical to California working families. The District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and New York have taken measures towards providing protected parental leave for employees of small businesses. California must continue to make strong family leave legislation a priority, so that new parents do not have to choose between bonding with a newborn or losing their job.

Under current federal law, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), entitles eligible employees of businesses with 50 or more employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. The Act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to attend to the serious health condition of the employee, parent, spouse or child, or for the pregnancy or care of a newborn child, or for adoption or foster care of a child.

Under current California law, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), an employee of a business consisting of 50 or more employees may take an unpaid, job-protected leave for the purposes of child bonding, for placement of a child in the employee’s family for adoption or foster care, for the serious health condition of the employee’s child, parent, or spouse, and for the employee’s own serious health condition.

California led the way by enacting the nation’s first ever Paid Family Leave program. California’s Paid Family Leave program is worker funded and provides parents with partial income while caring for a newborn or family caregiving responsibilities. However many employees do not use this benefit for fear of losing or risking job security. “>will benefit up to 16 percent of the workforce, but only effect 6 percent of the businesses. SB 654 ensures that more California workers who have been paying into the Paid Family Leave insurance program are able to use this benefit for parental leave without the risk of losing their job. While an employee is on leave, the employer must maintain the employees’ health insurance and an employee must have worked for the employer for at least a year and a half in order to be eligible for leave.

Too many California workers are left without any job-protected parental leave and many new parents are struggling with the moral and ethical dilemma of deciding between the wellbeing of their new child or their family’s financial security. In fact, this 6-week new parent leave timeframe is supported by research. Experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that healthy full-term infants should not be placed in child care until they are at least 12 weeks of age due to swift developmental changes and the risk of quickly developing severe undetected illness.

The trade-off between taking time off or earning money will perpetuate the trend that women take more leave than men. Therefore, the problems of job instability and uncertainty women face after having children will continue to progress. Without job protection,

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