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CA Lawmakers Vote Today on Expanded Paid Family Leave as Part of Budget

A 2019 Urban Institute study found that 41% of American workers cannot access paid leave. (Clarksgirl/Morguefile)
A 2019 Urban Institute study found that 41% of American workers cannot access paid leave. (Clarksgirl/Morguefile)
June 15, 2020

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Paid leave may become a lot easier to take under a proposal in the state budget that is set for a final vote today.

Currently, more than 11 million full-time private-sector employees pay into the paid family leave system, but only those who work for companies with more than 20 employees are guaranteed to get their job back if they take leave.

David Rattray, president and CEO of the nonprofit Unite-LA, is part of a business task force that supports extending the right-of-return to all workers.

"Regardless of the size of the employer, an individual that pays into a plan should have the right to take that leave without risk of loss of their employment," Rattray said.

If passed, the change would likely go into effect in January. Gov. Gavin Newsom is also asking for money to be set aside to help small businesses cover the cost of hiring temporary workers or cross training other employees.

Statistics show low-wage people of color are over-represented in the small-business workforce. Bridget Shea, California campaign manager with the group Paid Leave for the United States, said many black and Latinx new mothers in particular avoid taking paid leave because they have little savings and can't afford to lose a job.

"These are the people that many of us rely on in our daily lives and who continue to be essential in keeping California functioning during this pandemic," Shea said.

A new study from Bay Area Council Economic Institute found small businesses actually benefited in states that already have made this change, as the flexibility tends to motivate employees to work harder and stay with a company longer.

Disclosure: Paid Leave for the U.S. (PL+US) contributes to our fund for reporting on Early Childhood Education, Family/Father Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Women's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA