Starting January 1, 2018, new parents in California can rest a bit easier. Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 63, officially titled the Parental Leave Act, into law yesterday which will impact employers with between 20 and 49 employees–in other words, employers who are not subject to the federal FMLA. Mirroring the FMLA employee eligibility requirements, the new Act allows employees who work for a covered employer to take 12-weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if they have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the 12-months prior to taking leave. Employees can take leave only for the purpose of bonding with a newborn child, adopted child or foster child within a year of the birth or placement. Covered employers will also need to maintain health coverage under the same terms as an active employee. The Act also prohibits discrimination and retaliation against an employee for taking parental leave.
The Parental Leave Act does not require an employer to pay any portion of the leave but requires that employees be able to use accrued sick and vacation time. Of course, a portion of the parental leave will be paid for employees who apply through the state’s Paid Family Leave program. As previously blogged about by my colleague Jeff Polsky, San Francisco requires some employers to pay a remaining portion of parental leave and many companies are voluntarily choosing to enact paid parental leave policies. California joins New York and Rhode Island as the only states that require job-protected parental leave.