Contributed by Karuna Brunk
On September 24, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to extend California’s Paid Family Leave program to relatives beyond parents, spouses, children, registered domestic partners, and same-sex spouses. Under this program, employees will be able to take up to 6 weeks off from work with partial pay from the state to take care of extended family members such as grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or parents-in-law.
California’s Paid Family Leave guarantees up to 55% of an employee’s average weekly salary for up to 6 weeks within a 12-month period. Employees pay for the partial salary through a 1% deduction in their paychecks on the first $95,585 they earn annually. To be eligible for the partial payment, employees must have earned $300 in the preceding 12 months.
What does this mean for employers? Essentially, employees in California can now take paid time off to take care of grandparents, grandkids, and other extended family. Already the Federal Family Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of job protected but unpaid leave. Although Paid Family Leave does not guarantee job protection, the new additions to the act allow employees to take paid time to care for additional persons. In accordance with this new legal expansion, employers should update employee manuals and internal policies. They should also get ready for more employees to take leave.