New Law Expands Coverage Under California’s Paid Family Leave Program

On September 24, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 770, which expands California’s Paid Family Leave Program as of July 1, 2014.

How does SB 770 expand California’s Paid Family Leave Program?

The Paid Family Leave Program is a component of the State Disability Insurance Program, which is state-mandated and funded by employee payroll deductions. California’s Paid Family Leave Program provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement benefits to employees who take time off to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, domestic partner, or to bond with a minor child within one year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption. The new law expands the scope of California’s Paid Family Leave Program to allow employees to receive partial wage replacement benefits when they take time off to care for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law on and after July 1, 2014.

How does SB 770 affect employers?

Employers should keep in mind that California’s Paid Family Leave Program is separate from the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). California’s Paid Family Leave Program does not entitle an employee to job-protected leave, nor does it expand the FMLA or CFRA to cover a serious health condition of a grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law. California’s Paid Family Leave Program merely provides partial wage replacement benefits when an employee takes time off from work to care for an eligible family member.

It is anticipated that the Employment Development Department will issue updated posters and/or notices that reflect the changes to the Paid Family Leave Program. If this occurs, beginning on July 1, 2014, employers will need to distribute updated Paid Family Leave notices to new hires. In addition, employers must provide updated Paid Family Leave notices to those employees requesting time off for a covered reason, including those who take time off to care for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law.

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