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California Expands Family and Medical Leave

California Expands Family and Medical Leave

The new law will go into effect in January

California Expands Family and Medical Leave

During the course of our lives, there are times when we may need to take leave from work. Perhaps we are battling a medical condition of our own, and need time off to recover, or we might need to help a family member through an illness. We also may want to spend time with a child that has recently joined our family. Under California and federal law, the right to take this leave is guaranteed for most employees. With the passage of a new law in California, even more employees are eligible to take this type of leave.

As a California employment lawyer can explain, under the current California Family Rights Act, companies with 50 or more employees within a certain radius are required to provide 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave during a 12 month period. This leave is available to employees who have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous year, if they need to take leave for their own serious health condition, to bond with a new child, or to care for a qualifying family member with a serious health condition. In 2018, the New Parent Leave act was passed, which expanded the requirement to provide 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave to bond with a new child to employers with as few as 20 employees within the same radius.

Under Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383), which was signed into law by Governor Newsom on September 21, 2020, this right to protect leave has been significantly expanded. Under SB 1383:

  • Employers with 5 or more employees must provide protected family and medical leave, regardless of where these employees are located.
  • Employees can take leave to care for a grandparent, grandchild, or sibling; under current law, family leave is only permitted to take care of a parent, child, spouse or domestic partner.
  • Employees can take leave due to an emergent circumstance related to a call to active duty (for the spouse or their partner, spouse, child, or parent).
  • If two parents work for the same employer, each parent can take the full 12 weeks of leave to bond with a new child. Under current law, both parents are limited to a total of 12 weeks between them if they work for the same employer.
  • The “key employee exemption,” which allows employers to refuse to reinstate to the highest paid 10% of salaried employees, is eliminated.

These changes will go into effect on January 1, 2021. As a result of this law, more employees will have access to family and medical leave. Workers will also be permitted to take leave for a broader range of reasons.

Family and medical leave is protected under both federal and state law. If your employer discriminates against you or takes a negative employment action against you for taking this protected leave, you may be able to file a claim against them with the help of a skilled California employment lawyer.

At PLBSH, we are dedicated to helping employees as they seek to address unfair or illegal behavior in their workplace. We have substantial experience representing workers in California employment law disputes, and we put our knowledge to work to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome for their case. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team, contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsh.com.

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