Happy tenth birthday to California’s Paid Family Leave Law!
Paid Family Leave (PFL) first went into effect ten years ago today on July 1, 2004. For the past decade, most California workers have been entitled to paid leave when they take time off of work to care for a seriously ill parent, spouse, or child. Coverage was also expanded to cover care for a domestic partner. In addition, parents are entitled to paid leave to bond with a new baby during that first year or to connect with an adopted or foster child.
With paid family leave, California workers don’t have to choose between caring for a sick loved one and making ends meet. PFL provides for up to six weeks of wage replacement at about 55% of your pay, up to $1067 per week-through California’s Employment Development Department (EDD).
More Care is Now Covered!
Today is a special day for PFLL for a second reason: the law, thanks to the passage of SB 770 last year, now provides you with paid leave if you take time off to care for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law. This change recognizes that we count on our families to care for us and that as populations age and demographics change, that care comes not just from parents, children, and spouses, but also from extended family.
There is More Work to Be Done
Now that these benefits exist and are available to Californians, more can and should be done to encourage people to take such leave as needed. As I have previously explored in great depth, many people who are entitled to PFL don’t take it. I have identified four main reasons:
- The leave they seek is not job protected because they do not work for a large-enough employer, do not meet eligibility requirements, or the person cared for is outside the scope of the leave laws;
- They cannot financially afford to take the time off from work;
- Lack of knowledge, as many people who are entitled to and can take leave don’t know what their leave rights are; and
- Even when employees know about their allowed leave and can afford to take it, they are too afraid to do so for fear that it will derail their careers.
Hopefully, in the next decade, we will address these issues and encourage more people to make full use of their paid family leave! But for today, let’s celebrate! (And let’s celebrate also the increase in the minimum wage that went into effect today!)
* * *
For more information on eligibility and coverage, go the the EDD’s site.