On December 22, 2016, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced Senate Bill (SB) 62 and 63 to the California Congress to further the cause of stronger family leave policies in the state. However, the new bills are seen as “job killers” by some, who claim they will place excessive burdens on small business owners.
SB 62 expands the list of seriously ill family members an employee can take 12 weeks off to care for to include a grandparent, grandchild, sibling, parent-in-law, and adult child. SB 63 provides 12 weeks of protected parental leave on top of the already state required 16 weeks of protected pregnancy leave. Both of these bills impact companies that have over 20 employees who are within a 75-mile radius of one another.
The California Chamber of Commerce is fiercely opposed to SB 63. They claim that when combined with pregnancy leave, an employee could potentially have up to seven months of protected leave. In addition, they state that small employers are already struggling with the minimum wage increase, and the new bill could expose small employers to costly litigation. Ultimately, they believe that small employers will struggle to grow their companies while the pressure of a 12 week protected family leave is in place.
In defending her bill, Sen. Jackson said, “It simply is not right that far too many Californians who already pay into and are eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits fear that if they utilize these benefits they will lose their jobs. This is an economic issue that affects the health and well-being of millions of California’s children and working families, and we have to do better.” To further support their claim a study showed that 37 percent of employees who qualified for Paid Family Leave didn’t do so because they feared compromising their jobs.
This isn’t the first time a bill like this has been introduced to the California congress. Just last year, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar one.
Currently, the state of California offers a variety of family leave policies such as paid sick days, school activities leave, and legislation like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA). In “The Status of Women in the States: 2015 Work & Family,” California was ranked No. 2 for its policies governing the protection of employees jobs while they care for family members.
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