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California Governor Signs Law Expanding Job-Protected Family Leave

On September 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1383 (“SB 1383“), expanding job-protected family leave for employees of companies with five or more employees. Previously, only employees of companies with 20 or more employees were entitled to these protections. According to the Governor’s office, this law, which becomes effective January 1, 2021, will expand job-protected family leave to nearly six million additional Californians.

Existing Law

The California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) currently makes it any an unlawful employment practice for a government employer or any employer with 50 or more employees to refuse to grant a request by an employee, who has at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period to bond with a new child of the employee or to care for themselves, a child, a parent, or a spouse. Qualifying employers must also provide reinstatement to the same or a comparable position upon the employee’s exhaustion of covered leave.

The CFRA authorizes an employer to refuse to grant a leave request if the employer employs fewer than 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite where the employee is employed or if the employee is a salaried employee who is among the highest-paid 10% of the employer’s employees.

The New Parent Leave Act (“NPLA”) makes it an unlawful employment practice for any employer to refuse to grant a request by an employee to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period to bond with a new child. The NPLA defines “employee” as a parent who has more than 12 months of service with the employer, who has at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, and who works at a worksite in which the employer employs at least 20 employees within 75 miles.

Under both the CFRA and NPLA, if both parents of a child are employed by the same employer, the employer is only required to grant both employees a combined total of 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during the 12-month period.

Expansions Under The New Law

SB 1383 expands the CRFA and NPLA to make it an unlawful employment practice for any employer with five or more employees to refuse to grant a request by an employee to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period to bond with a new child of the employee or to care for themselves or a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner. Qualifying employers must also provide a guarantee of employment in the same or a comparable position upon the termination of the leave.

The law eliminates the 75-mile radius for purposes of counting employees but keeps the requirement that to be eligible for leave the employee must have at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period.

In addition, the law requires an employer who employs both parents of a child to grant leave to each employee.

The law also makes it an unlawful employment practice for a covered employer to refuse to grant a request by an employee to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period due to a qualifying exigency related to covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States.

Small employers should review their policies and leave procedures, or if necessary, prepare a new policy, to ensure they will be ready when the law becomes effective in the New Year.

©2020 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 265
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About this Author

David Prager, employment lawyer, Epstein Becker
Associate

DAVID M. PRAGER is an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the Los Angeles office of Epstein Becker Green.

Mr. Prager:

  • Advises on and litigates unfair competition, non-compete, and trade secret matters, including disputes involving the misappropriation of trade secrets by former employees
  • Defends management in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and wage and hour matters, including individual and class action lawsuits, in state and federal courts and before arbitration tribunals...
310-557-9523
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