California Governor Signs Bill Expanding Baby Bonding Leave to Mid-Size Employers

On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed the New Parent Leave Act ("NPLA") (SB 63) into law, expanding access to job-protected leave for employees of companies with 20 to 49 employees.

Effective January 1, 2018, SB 63 will allow employees who work for an employer that directly employs 20 to 49 employees within 75 miles, to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.  Employees taking time off under the NPLA are entitled to use accrued paid time off, such as paid vacation and sick leave, during the leave.  The NPLA applies to private, state and municipal employers.

To be eligible for NPLA leave, employees must have been employed with the employer for 12 months and worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the 12 months before the leave begins.  Parents working for the same employer are eligible to receive a combined total of 12 weeks under the NPLA.

Employers must continue to pay for the employee’s group health plan coverage at the same level and under the same conditions that coverage would have been provided had the employee continued to work.  NPLA is job-protected.  Thus, employers must guarantee an employee returning from the leave the employee’s previous position or a comparable position.

The NPLA does not apply to employees who are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the Moore-Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act (aka, the California Family Rights Act or “CFRA”), both of which already provide 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave for baby bonding purposes to eligible employees of employers with at least 50 employees.  However, CFRA regulations apply to the NPLA to the extent they are within the scope of and not inconsistent with the NPLA.

Before SB 63 takes effect on January 1, 2018, employers should inform and/or train their managers and supervisors on how to comply with these new requirements and review and update their policies and procedures to comply with this new law.

For more information concerning SB 63, please contact one of the authors or attorneys in the Private Labor and Employment Group.


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