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Governor Jerry Brown Signs Bill to Expand Family Leave Laws

On Tuesday, September 24, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will expand the state's family leave program. The legislation – Senate Bill 770 – which was approved by lawmakers last week, is a yet another step for workers' rights advocates and a fitting response to changing family dynamics.

Currently, workers in California are permitted to take up to six weeks of paid family leave in order to care for a parent, a child, a spouse, or a domestic partner. Workers may receive partial pay (55% of their pay) that is deducted from their paychecks. Similar rights to family leave exist under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under the FMLA, workers are entitled to unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 workweeks in any 12-month period.

Under SB 770, California will expand the definition of family, allowing employees to take paid time off to care for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, and in-laws. Many workers' rights advocates agree that this was a significant step for progress, as changing family dynamics in the U.S. have shown that families vary considerably from the traditional "nuclear family." Increasingly, grandparents are often raising or living with grandchildren and the range of people providing care for relatives has broadened.

In addition to paid time off for these family members, workers will also have the right to job-protected leave. This means that employers cannot legally retaliate against an employee – or issue an adverse employment action such as firing, demoting, or cutting pay – because they took leave for a valid, legal reason. SB 770 will take effect on July 1, 2014.

If you would like more information about family and medical leave – or if you wish to discuss a case involving family leave – do not hesitate to contact an Orange County employment lawyer from Diefer Law Group, PC. Fill out a free case evaluation form or call (949) 945-0171.