Christian Science Monitor Examines Debate over Paid Family Leave Legislation in California, Nationwide
The Christian Science Monitor yesterday examined proposals in 23 states, including California, to "dramatically" expand paid leave to allow employees to care for a family member with an illness or to spend time with a newborn (Sappenfield, Christian Science Monitor, 8/6). In California, a Senate-passed bill (SB 1661) 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 up to 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, under consideration in the Assembly, 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). Gov. Gray Davis (D) has not taken a position on the bill. The Monitor reports that the California legislation and similar proposals in other states "threaten to place onerous new demands on the nation's employers -- precisely when businesses are struggling to recover from recession." Although the "issue is clearly gaining traction in state politics," the Monitor reports that discussions about paid family leave proposals have "snagged over how to pay for this generous new benefit" (Christian Science Monitor, 8/6).
NPR's "Morning Edition" today included a report on the California bill. The report includes comments from Kuehl; Julianne Broyles, director of insurance, employee relations and small business at the California Chamber of Commerce; and Judith Lichtman, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families (Jaffe, "Morning Edition," NPR, 8/7). The full report is available in RealPlayer online.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.