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California Extends Family Leave to Small Businesses

Starting on January 1, 2018, about 2.8 million small business workers in California will become eligible to take 12 weeks of parental leave to care for a newborn without losing their jobs. Two decades ago, the federal government passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), which granted parental leave to workers employed by large businesses – defined as 50 employees or more. With the current makeup of the federal government, any expansion of worker protections at the federal level is extremely unlikely and a number of states such as California have increasingly began to pass their own laws that go beyond federal protections.

With passage of the New Parent Leave Act, despite the opposition by the California Chamber of Commerce, California has now joined nine other states to offer job-protected family leave for workers employed by businesses with less than 50 people. The bill was strongly supported by the California Medical Association, which cited studies of infant brains revealing the critical importance of early parental bonding.

Summary of the New Parent Leave Act

  • The law applies to companies that employ 20 to 49 workers.
  • As long as the employee requesting the leave has at least one year of experience and 1,250 hours on the job, it is illegal for companies that employ 20 to 49 workers to refuse to grant new parents 12 weeks of leave within one year of the child’s birth or adoption.
  • It is also illegal for companies to terminate, fine, suspend, or discriminate against eligible employees who take parental leave.
  • The employer must provide a guarantee of employment in the same or a comparable position upon the completion of the leave.
  • The employer sued for or accused of violating this law can request mediation in front of a state board but the employee can decline to participate in the mediation and proceed with the lawsuit.

Worker Rights Attorneys at Broslavsky & Weinman

Based out of Los Angeles and San Bernardino, the wrongful termination and discrimination lawyers at Broslavsky & Weinman, LLP represent workers whose employers have violated federal and state laws. For a free consultation, you can call us at (310) 575-2550 or fill out our Contact Us form.

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