Omid Nosrati

Bill expanding California parental leave heads to governor

Not all expectant parents in California are guaranteed time off once their children are born. While state law guarantees 12 weeks of parental leave for many new mothers and fathers, the existing law only covers people working in companies with at least 50 employees.

This could change under SB 63, the New Parent Leave Act, which recently passed the California Senate. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill into law, protections that currently exist for workers at larger companies would extend to workers at companies that employ at least 20 people.

What would change under the bill?

These protections would be available to both mothers and fathers who take parental bonding leave:

  • Job protection, meaning your employer cannot fire you for taking up to 12 weeks of parental leave
  • Up to six weeks of leave paid at a rate of 55 percent of your regular salary
  • The ability to stay on your employer-sponsored health insurance plan during your leave

This would be good news for many new parents who currently face a difficult choice between their future employment and time with their new child. While birth mothers have the option to take Pregnancy Disability Leave, the expanded parental leave bill would cover parents of any gender, including adoptive parents, as well.

While opponents worry about the cost to small businesses, supporters estimate that up to 2.7 million workers could benefit under the law, the Los Angeles Times reported. State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, who sponsored the bill, told the Los Angeles Times that many employees of small businesses risk losing their jobs by taking time off after the birth of a child.

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