California increases the amount of money workers will receive on family and medical leave
The law will provide 90% wage replacements for eight weeks to workers earning less than the state median wage, should they be required to take family or medical leave.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Friday that will increase the amount of money workers receive under the state's paid family and medical leave program.
The measure will ensure that workers with lower wages are not excluded from a benefit they are already paying, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Starting in 2025, the state will pay up to 90% in wage replacement for new parents and those who need to take time off to care for a seriously ill family member or for themselves.
Senate Bill 951 by Democratic Senator María Elena Durazo also ensures that salary replacement will remain between 60% and 70% for the next two years after the rate returned to 55% as of January 1.
“California families and our state as a whole are stronger when workers have the support they need to take care of themselves and their loved ones,” Newsom said in a statement.
“California created the first Paid Family Leave program in the nation 20 years ago, and today we are taking an important step to ensure that more low-wage workers, many of them women and people of color, can access the time off they have earned. while still supporting his family.”
California workers automatically pay into the employee-funded State Disability Insurance program, which includes Paid Family Leave.
Yet many employees are unaware of the benefits or say they can't afford a pay cut to take time off.
The highest-wage earners were four times more likely to use the Paid Family Leave program in 2020 than the lowest-wage workers, according to the California Budget and Policy Center.
The law will provide 90% wage replacements for eight weeks to workers earning less than the state median wage, while those earning more will receive 70% of their wages.
Newsom vetoed a similar measure last year by former Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez saying the bill would “create significant new costs” and “result in higher employee-paid disability contributions.”
The state's disability insurance program was created in 1946 to provide partial wage replacement benefits for employees who are unable to work due to pregnancy or non-work-related illnesses and injuries.
In 2002, Governor Gray Davis signed legislation expanding the program, making California the first state in the nation to offer comprehensive paid family leave.
The law, authored by then-state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, provides workers with partial pay to bond with a new baby or care for a seriously ill family member.
“Twenty years after California adopted the nation's first comprehensive paid family leave program, we can now be proud that our state leads when it comes to equity for low-paid workers and families of color,” Durazo said. it's a statement.
In 2020, the state increased the length of time a person can qualify for family leave from six to eight weeks.
Before that, lawmakers raised wage replacement from 55% to 60% to 70% depending on a person's average weekly wage, though that increase was scheduled for Jan. 1 if Newsom didn't sign AB 951.
The programs are fully funded by an employee payroll deduction.
Under the new law, the state will no longer have a cap on payroll tax contributions, meaning people with higher incomes will pay more into the system.
However, a legislative analysis of the bill said those additional contributions will not fully offset the roughly $3 billion to $4 billion in new benefits.
“The Governor's signing of SB 951 means many more California workers and their families will be able to take paid sick leave to bond with a new child or care for a seriously ill loved one,” said Jenya Cassidy, director of the California Work & Family Coalition, in a statement.
“This will make a big difference in people's lives.”
“This is an incredible victory for workers across the state, especially women, LGBTQ+ immigrants, and low-wage workers, ” Jessica Ramey Stender, policy director for Equal Rights Advocates, said in a statement.