California to Extend Family Leave to New Parent Bonding

September 21, 2016

The California Legislature sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown on September 9 that would bar covered employers from refusing to permit an employee (with more than 12 months and at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period) to take parental leave for up to six weeks to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. The legislation would also prohibit covered employers from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes that leave.

Employers covered by the legislation are (1) a person who directly employs—within 75 miles of the worksite where an employee is employed—20 or more persons to perform services for a wage or salary; and (2) the state, and any political or civil subdivision of the state, and cities, except for a school district, county office of education, or a community college district. If approved by the governor, the bill’s provisions would be operative January 1, 2018. Current state laws prohibit an employer from refusing to let a female employee disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition take leave for a reasonable period of up to four months before returning to work. Employers are also currently barred from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes that leave.