California lawmakers voted Monday to remove a key hurdle that new parents and employees caring for sick family members say keeps them from using the state’s paid leave program by offering job protections to those workers.
Senate Bill 1383 by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) would provide millions of employees who work for smaller businesses with the same 12 weeks of job protections while taking family leave as those who work for larger companies. The bill now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has said he will sign it.
“Access to family leave is especially critical amid COVID-19 when workers need to take time off to care for themselves or their loved ones,” Jackson said. “Yet without job protection, many workers fear losing their job for taking the Paid Family Leave benefits they pay for. We should be encouraging people to stay home if they are sick, not forcing them to choose between their health and their job.”
California’s paid family leave program allows workers to take time off to bond with a new child or care for a sick family member while receiving 60% to 70% of their weekly salary for eight weeks. Employees automatically pay into the program through the state’s disability tax, but not all workers say they feel they can use the benefit. Many employees, particularly low-wage workers, said they fear that if they take time off they would not have a job to return to.
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