Senate Approves Legislation to Provide Paid Family Leave for Employees
The Senate yesterday voted 21-15 to pass a bill (SB 1661) that would provide employees with disability pay for up to 12 weeks to allow them to care for a family member with an illness or to spend time with a newborn, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Under current state law, employees may take unpaid leave in such cases (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/11). The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), would require the state disability insurance program 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" (Ingram, Los Angeles Times, 6/11). 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 (Lawrence, AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/11). The legislation would provide employees with payments that range from $50 to $490 per week, capping payments at 55% of earnings for the period of leave. According to the Department of Employment Development, the bill would cost $217 million in the first two years (Los Angeles Times, 6/11).
Supporters said that the bill would allow many employees who cannot afford to take unpaid leave to "take advantage" of the state disability insurance program. Nesty Firestein, director of the Labor Project for Working Families, added that the legislation would "save employers money by helping them retain employees" (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/11). Opponents, however, said that the bill would hurt businesses. The bill moves to the Assembly for consideration. Gov. Gray Davis (D) has not taken a position on the legislation (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/11).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.