Great news everyone! California will now expand the state’s paid family leave benefits for workers needing to take time off to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child.
What’s This About?
In 2004, California was the first state to implement a Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, which, according to the Employment Development Department (EDD):
“provides PFL benefits to eligible workers who need time of work to care for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner, or to bond with a new child entering the family by birth, adoption, or foster care placement.”
The success following this pioneering program prompted many other states such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York to adopt similar programs. If you’re not too familiar with this benefits program, it is California’s family temporary disability insurance program administered through the EDD.
On June 27th, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 83, the most recent enactment of the PFL program, which will extend the maximum duration of PFL benefits from six weeks to eight weeks. By signing SB 83 into law, Governor Newsom moves towards fulfilling his campaign promise to expand the state’s paid family leave benefits.
This Bill additionally requires the Governor to propose further benefit increases — in terms of duration and amount — and job protections for those individuals receiving PFL benefits. Under SB 83, by November 2019, the governor must submit this proposal along with a proposal to increase PFL duration to a full six months by 2021-2022.
Why Does It Matter?
Once this law becomes effective (on July 1st, 2020) it will provide wage replacement benefits for up to 8 weeks, instead of 6 weeks, to those individuals who pay into the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program.
It is important to note that, while the PFL program provides wage replacement, it currently does not provide job protection and is not a leave right. Other state and federal laws such as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), the federal Family and Medical Leave (FMLA), and the Parental Leave law do provide such protection for eligible employees. SB 83 requires the governor to assess and address the lack of job protection for employees with the PFL program.
As of now, the PFL program provides wage replacement at approximately 60-70%, depending on the employee’s income. Under SB 83, the governor is required to propose an increase in the wage replacement rate up to 90% for low-wage workers.