California Assembly to vote on bill that would give more workers 12 weeks of parental leave

California Parental Leave

In September, the California Assembly will vote on a Senate-passed bill that would require smaller companies to provide the same amount of unpaid parental leave as larger companies. If lawmakers and the governor approve the bill, businesses with at least 20 employees will be required to offer continued health coverage and job protection to their employees for 12 weeks.

Currently, employees who work at companies with less than 20 to 49 employees are only required to provide six to eight weeks of recovery time after birth. Meanwhile, only companies with 50 or more employees are required to offer 12 weeks of job protected parental leave.

Employees working for large companies with 50 or more employees make up 41 percent of California’s workforce, and companies with 20 to 49 employees have 16 percent of California jobholders. If the bill becomes law, about 2.7 million more Californians would gain the right to 12 weeks of job-protected family leave to bond with their newborns, or adopted or foster children.

While Senate Bill 63 would be a step forward in the political battle to improve family leave legislation in the state, it fails to cover the needs of employees working at small companies with fewer than 20 employees, or 90 percent of the state’s employers. These small companies are exempt from state-mandated family leave.

Many families are forced to put their children in childcare within the first weeks or months of life due to their need to return to work. However, leaving a child away from their parents before 12 weeks could be detrimental to their development.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, newborns “experience rapid developmental changes during this period and are at greater risk of developing severe, difficult-to-detect illness.” As a way to address this issue, SB 63 represents a strong push toward mandating equal access to parental leave for California workers.