As of January 1, 2018, California’s small employers—those who employ 20 to 49 employees within a 75-mile radius—must provide job-protected unpaid leave for new parents to bond with a newborn child. This law is significant because it increases the number of employers who must provide parental leave. Employees of larger companies are entitled to job-protected leave under federal law.
The California New Parent Leave Act adds a section to the Government Code that requires employers provide up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child within a year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. The law now covers 2.7 million California parents, or about 16 percent of the state’s labor force. In addition, small employers must also maintain health insurance coverage while the employee is on leave, under the same terms and conditions as employees actively at work. The employer may recover the costs of health care coverage if the employee fails to return to work when leave expires for a reason other than a serious health condition that continues, recurs, or develops, or other circumstances beyond the employee’s control.
An employer must give leave to an eligible employee: that is, an employee who has worked for at least 12 months and who has provided at least 1,250 hours of service and who works at a worksite where the employer employs at least 20 employees within 75 miles.
If both parents work for the same employer and are entitled to leave, their combined leave is 12 weeks. The employer may, but is not required to, allow both parents to take leave at the same time.
California New Parent Leave does not provide leave for employees to care for family members with serious health conditions, or for the employee’s own health, pregnancy disability, or family members’ deployments or injuries. The leave is solely for the purpose of bonding with a new baby.
For more information on this and other employment law updates in California, contact experienced employment attorney Drew E. Pomerance today.