The fate of SB 654 is one of hundreds of bills awaiting the review and approval of Governor Jerry Brown. The bill, dubbed the New Parent Leave Act, would offer up to 6 weeks of protected family leave time. It would also prohibit an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for the employee who takes this leave. Although the time off would be unpaid, the employee would still be entitled to take any accrued sick, vacation, or other paid time off.
SB 654 would be applicable to companies with 20 to 49 employees. Currently, federal and state laws offer up to 12 weeks of family leave to employees working at a businesses with 50 or more employees. This bill would certainly present challenges to small employers already dealing with rising minimum wages, including time and expenses to hire a replacement or pay overtime for existing employees undertaking reassigned tasks.
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who introduced the proposed law, states “…we live in a different world today. It is a world where both men and women are working. It is a world where both men and women want the opportunity to bond with their newborns, and frankly, no parent should be forced to choose between the well-being of their new child and their family’s financial security.”
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