California’s New Parent Leave Act (SB 63), in effect January 1, requires employers with 20 to 49 employees within a 75-mile radius to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
The new benefit is in addition to Pregnancy Disability Leave, creating the potential for a combined 7-month leave period. However, the New Parent Leave Act does not apply to an employee who is already subject to both the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
To be eligible, employees must have worked prior to beginning leave at least 1,250 hours during a 12-month period with the covered employer.
Employer Responsibilities and Requirements Under the New Parent Leave Act
Covered employers must:
- Maintain and pay for health plan coverage for an eligible employee under its group plan at the level and under the conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued to work in his or her position for the duration of the leave. Employers are entitled to recover their portion of the premium should the employee fail to return to the job following leave, unless failure to return is due to a serious health condition or other circumstances beyond the employee’s control.
- Guarantee employment upon return to the job in the same or a comparable position.
- Permit employees to “utilize accrued vacation pay, paid sick time, other accrued paid time off, or other paid or unpaid time off negotiated with the employer, during the period of parental leave.”
Parents who both work for the same employer are entitled to a combined total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave under this Act. An employer may, but is not required to, grant simultaneous leave to both employees.
Keep the Workplace Working
California employers should update their Employee Handbooks and company policies to include New Parent Leave effective in 2018.