California workers can now get paid more when they take time off to care for their families, while those working at small businesses are guaranteed unpaid leave for the first time.
Here’s a look at two changes to the state’s family leave laws that went into effect Jan. 1:
Paid family leave and disability insurance benefits increased
Weekly benefits for the state’s paid family leave and disability insurance programs increased, meaning workers can get paid more when they take time off to care for ill family members, bond with new children or miss work due to pregnancy, sickness or injury, according to a news release from the California Employment Development Department.
Assembly Bill 908, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016, increases wage replacement benefits from the previous 55 percent to either 60 or 70 percent, depending on income. The weekly benefits will range between $50 to $1,216, depending on an individual’s earnings.
The law also eliminates the one-week waiting period for paid family leave claims.
Workers can use the EDD’s online benefit calculator to determine how much in either paid family leave or disability insurance benefits they could receive if they meet eligibility requirements.
California became the first state in the country to create a paid family leave program in 2002. It provides benefits to workers who take time off to care for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or registered domestic partner, as well as new parents who take time off to bond with a child entering their family either by birth, adoption or foster care placement.
The benefits are payable for up to six weeks in a 12-month period, and it does not have to be taken all at once.
The disability insurance program provides benefits to help replace lost earnings when workers are unable to work due to a non-work-related illness or injury, pregnancy or childbirth. Benefits are payable for a maximum of 52 weeks.
Both programs are funded entirely through State Disability Insurance payroll deductions.
For more information on the programs, visit californiapaidfamilyleave.com or www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/Disability_Insurance.htm.
Small business workers get family leave
Though the state has had a wage replacement program for family leave for more than a decade, not all workers were guaranteed the ability to take that time off and still keep their jobs.
With Senate Bill 63, which Brown signed in October, workers at companies with between 20 and 49 workers are now guaranteed up to 12 weeks unpaid family leave. Employees must have at least one year of experience and 1,250 hours on the job to be eligible for job-protected leave under the bill.
Workers at larger businesses with at least 50 employees have had this for more than two decades under both federal and state law.
The new law is expected to impact around 2.8 million small-business workers across the state.