WHAT’S NEW FOR 2018 – California “New Parent Leave Act” Impacts Small Business

Employers with 20 or More on Payroll Must Provide Expanded Parental Leave:

Effective January 1, 2018, California’s “New Parent Leave Act” (the Act) requires all private employers with 20 or more on payroll to provide eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of birth, adoption, or foster care placement (parental leave).

An eligible employee must have worked for the employer for more than 12 months and at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period. The employee must also work at a worksite comprising at least 20 employees within 75 miles.

The Act only covers eligible employees who are not otherwise subject to both the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

The parental leave shall be separate from and in addition to Pregnancy Disability Leave.

The employee may choose whether to use accrued vacation pay, paid sick time, or other accrued paid time off during the parental leave. Additionally, the employer must maintain group health plan benefits during the leave at the same level and under the same conditions as if the employee was still working.

The employer may not deny the parental leave or ask the employee to reschedule the leave’s start date. The employer must provide a guarantee of reinstatement to the same or comparable position before the leave begins. If on or before commencement of the leave the employer fails to provide such a guarantee, the employer shall be deemed to have refused to allow the leave.

Both parents working for the same employer are entitled to a cumulative 12 weeks total. The employer may, but is not required to, provide simultaneous leave to both parents.

Covered employers should update their employee handbooks and prepare internal notices and forms for employees to use when requesting leave under the Act. The Fair Employment and Housing Council is expected to issue new regulations in the coming year, which will probably require amending such handbook provisions and notices.

For further information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Cindy Bamforth

December 8, 2017

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