New Proposed CA Bill on Protected Employee Leave
As you may be aware already, the California Legislature passed a bill last week that would provide protected leave of absence to employees of small businesses in California.The Governor will now address the SB63 after the Senate voted to concur in the Assembly amendments to the bill on September 13th. Governor Brown vetoed a similar bill (SB654) in 2016.However, SB654 was more narrow in scope.
If passed, SB63 would require employers with 20 – 49 employees to provide 12 weeks of protected employee leave for child bonding.These 12 weeks would be in addition to the current requirement of California employers, with 5 or more employees, to provide up to 4 months of protected leave for an employee who experiences a medical disability due to pregnancy.The proposed bill is similar to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) which currently offers the same parental leave protections to employees who work for an employer with 50 or more employees.
Employees would only be eligible for benefits under SB63 if the following criteria is met (similar to CFRA):
- The employee has worked for the employer for at least 12 months.
- The employee has at least 1,250 hours of service during the previous 12-month period.
- The employee works at a worksite that employs at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius. (I.e. A worksite with only 6 employees would be required to grant leave to an employee if there are other worksites in a 75-mile radius with enough employees to hit the “20-employee” threshold.)
Employers would be required to provide leave to an employee upon request, regardless of any hardships this might create.Failure to provide leave under SB63 would open an employer up to “unlawful employment practice” under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), as well as costly litigation.Unlawful employment practice could include:
- Failure to provide an employee with 12 weeks of protected leave
- Failure to return the employee to the same or comparable position
- Failure to maintain an employee’s benefits while they are on leave
- Taking adverse employment action against an employee for requesting or taking leave