California Increases State Sponsored Family Leave Pay

Democratic Governor of California, Jerry Brown signed a bill last Monday that will expand the state’s family leave law. The law, which takes effect in 2018, promises to provide better benefits to low-income workers who are new parents or who are caring for a sick family member. 

Fifteen years ago, California was the first state in the US to guarantee workers paid time off when caring for a newborn or sick family member. The former program paid workers (regardless of gender) 55% of their wages for up to six weeks. The new law will allow those workers who earn minimum wage to be paid 70% of their salary while on leave. Those who earn higher wages (up to $108,000) will be paid 60% of their salary while on leave.

Brown, who was also responsible for the recent $15 per hour minimum wage hike in California, states that the decision was made in order to compensate for the gross inequality amongst workers in California, “We’re trying to compensate for the gross inequality that is not an abstraction but it’s bringing down the lives of a lot of people who live in California.”

Obama addressed the new law in California.Though he is happy for those residing in California, he makes note of the fact that millions of Americans don’t have access to any form of paid leave. He states that other states in the US should follow the example of California (and other countries in the world).

Jimmy Gomez, the Democratic Assemblyman of Echo Park, said that “it is unrealistic to expect a worker who is already living paycheck to paycheck on 100 percent of their salary to use a program for 6 weeks at nearly half of their wages.”

New York is among one of the states that others should look up to. Just last week New York enacted a bill that will require employers to provide 12 weeks of paid time off to new parents and those with ailing family members. San Francisco, however, currently has the best benefits in the country. They require employers to give new parents six weeks of full paid time off.

The benefits will cost $587 million annually and will require an increase in the amount that workers pay in to the fund. 

What do you think of this employee funded leave pay?

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