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California Broadens Its Family Rights Act

Attention, small businesses and their employees. This one’s for you.

Beginning January 1, 2021, if you employ five or more people in the state, you must provide them up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave, upon request, so they may welcome a newborn or care for a sick family member.

You don’t have to pay them, but you can’t deny their request, and you have to reinstate them afterward.

This is Senate Bill 1383. It amends the Government Code to extend the California Family Rights Act to more people and businesses. Currently, the law covers employers with more than twenty employees when it comes to leave to care for a newborn, and it covers those with more than fifty employees when it comes to a family member’s serious health condition (or one’s own). A serious health condition means an illness, injury, or condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital or a doctor’s ongoing, continuous care.

So, beginning next year, if you have five or more employees, you must grant them up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for the foregoing reasons, as long as they have put in at least twelve months already and logged at least 1,250 hours in the last year.

What else is new?

  • There is no longer a requirement that employees work within 75 miles of the worksite.
  • Employees can also take leave when needed in relation to a spouse, partner, child, or parent who is called to active duty in the armed forces.
  • Employees can take leave to care for a grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or domestic partner as well as a child, spouse, or parent. Before, it was just a child, spouse, or parent.
  • Parents can take leave to care for children who are grown and on their own. Before, they had to be minors or dependent adults.
  • If you employ both parents, you must afford them twelve weeks of leave each. Before, you only had to grant twelve weeks total between the two of them.

Here’s more coverage from the L.A. Times.

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