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California expands paid family leave law

California expands paid family leave law

Legislation signed Tuesday by California Gov. Jerry Brown will expand the state's 2002 paid family leave law to provide partial replacement of wages for employees who take time off to care for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and parents-in-laws.

Under the current law, employees who take leave to care for a newly born or adopted child or to take care of a seriously ill child, spouse, parent or domestic partner receive payments from a state fund to replace 55% of wages. The new law expands the kind of family related situations for which the 55% wage replacement will be provided when employees take leave.

“Expanding this program will result in no additional costs to employees or employers and will help ensure that no worker has to make the terrible choice between putting food on their table and caring for a seriously ill grandmother,” State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, said in a statement. Sen. Jackson sponsored the legislation, S.B. 770, which takes effect July 1, 2014.

The benefits available to eligible employees are fully funded through employee payroll deductions, the amount of which is based on salary.

Leave taken under the new and current law is counted against the 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave employees are entitled to under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Unlike the FMLA, which exempts employers with fewer than 50 employees, the California law applies to virtually all employers in the Golden State. The largest group excluded are state employees, who have a similar program.