California Parental Leave Act – What Employers Should Know

New year, new labor laws in California and new parents are winning.

As things change typically every year, new parents may be happy to know that a new law in California that grants 12 weeks of job-protected leave for bonding with their new child is effective Jan. 1, 2018. The 12 weeks of leave must be taken within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

Who this law protects

This new law protects employees of companies who have 20 or more employees, who must have been working for their employers for 12 months and have at least 1250 hours of services during that 12-month period.

What employers should know

If you are an employer with 20 or more employees, here are some conditions you should be aware of:

  • Leave is unpaid, but employees can utilize accrued vacation, paid sick time, and other accrued paid/unpaid time off for parental leave
  • Employers must maintain and pay for health coverage under a group health plan for eligible employees
  • Health benefits during leave will be maintained for the 12 weeks only; if the employee fails to return from the leave, employers can recover coverage costs
  • Employers must provide the employee with a guarantee of reinstatement to the same or comparable position upon return from the leave (if no guarantee is given, the employer will be in violation of the law)
  • If both parents work for the same employer and are eligible, employers may require them to share the 12-week leave
  • New law doesn’t apply to employees who are already subject to the FMLA and CFRA

Some advice…

If you haven’t already done so, update your employee handbooks with the new policy and provide training to managers and HR about the new leave rights and obligations.

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