California lawmakers pass bill to extend family leave to new parent bonding

The California Legislature sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown on September 9 that would bar covered employers from refusing to permit an employee (with more than 12 months and at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period) to take parental leave for up to six weeks to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. The New Parent Leave Act, S.B. 654, would also prohibit covered employers from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes that leave.

Current state laws prohibit an employer from refusing to let a female employee disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition take leave for a reasonable period of up to four months before returning to work. Employers are also currently barred from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes that leave.

Covered employers. The provisions of S.B. 654 would apply to the following employers:

• A person who directly employs—within 75 miles of the worksite where an employee is employed—20 or more persons to perform services for a wage or salary.

• The state, and any political or civil subdivision of the state, and cities, except for a school district, county office of education, or a community college district.

Under Section 18 of the California Labor Code, “person” is defined as “any person, association, organization, partnership, business trust, limited liability company, or corporation.”

If approved by the governor, the bill’s provisions would be operative January 1, 2018.

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