Assembly Committee Passes Legislation To Provide Paid Family Leave for Employees
The Assembly Appropriations Committee yesterday voted 13-8 to approve an amended version of a Senate-passed bill (SB 1661) that would provide employees with disability pay to allow them to care for a family member with an illness or to spend time with a newborn, the AP/Fresno Bee reports (Chu, AP/Fresno Bee, 8/23). The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), would require the state disability insurance program -- funded by California employers and employees -- to pay "partial replacement compensation" for as many as 12 weeks when an employee leaves work as a result of a "temporary family disability." Employees who qualify would receive benefits to care for a "seriously ill child, spouse, parent or domestic partner or to bond with a newborn infant." The bill would require a doctor to "verify that there was a serious illness or a new child" before an employee could take a leave. The legislation would provide employees with payments that range from $50 to $490 per week and cap payments at 55% of earnings for the period of leave. The bill would cost $217 million in the first two years (California Healthline, 7/29).
The version of the bill approved yesterday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee would provide six weeks of paid leave and would allow employees to take an additional six weeks of unpaid leave. In addition, the legislation would require employees to take two weeks of unused vacation time before they received the paid leave and would have to provide verification that no other family member could serve as a caregiver. The bill also would require employees to cover the full cost of the program. Kuehl said, "These amendments were necessary to even think about getting this bill through the Assembly." According to the AP/Bee, however, the amendments do not address the concerns of employers, who have "fiercely opposed" the bill. The bill moves to the Assembly floor for consideration (AP/Fresno Bee, 8/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.