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Are California Family Leave Laws About to Receive a Major Improvement?

Eligible workers at companies with 50 or more employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period under certain family-related or personal circumstances. This is thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Both laws protect the jobs of workers taking leave after adopting or having children, or who are caring for sick family members. Last year, state lawmakers tried to expand California family leave laws by including residents employed at businesses with 20 to 49 workers.

The New Parents Leave Act (NPLA) would have allowed new parents up to six weeks of unpaid leave to care for new children. This law failed to pass after a veto from Governor Jerry Brown, who claimed he was worried about the effects the legislation would have on small businesses.

California lawmakers are giving this proposal another chance. A state senator reintroduced the NPLA, although with some slight differences. The new bill asks for 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents instead of six. In addition, the state senator reintroduced a separate bill addressing time off for workers caring for sick family members.

If these proposals were to pass, it would give eligible employees at small businesses protections similar to the FMLA. Even better, California recently passed legislation allowing eligible workers to receive partial pay while taking family leave.

Are You Eligible for Family Leave? Beware of Employer Retaliation

Employees may experience workplace retaliation even when they are eligible to receive time off under the FMLA or the CFRA. Employers may fire employees who signal they are going to use or have used FMLA or CFRA leave. Affected workers should immediately compile evidence of retaliation, and contact an employment law attorney to explore possible legal options.