California parents who work for small companies and are trying to piece together a parental leave to care for their newborn or newly adopted child can breathe a sigh of relief in 2018. An update to California law recently went into effect that expands leave protections to more employees.
As of January 1, companies with at least 20 employees are now required to provide the 12-week guaranteed unpaid parental leave.
Under previous California law, companies with 50 or more employees were required to give their employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides that same level of protection under federal law, with some other stipulations, but the California update goes further.
Guaranteed leave protection
It is estimated this update will affect roughly 2.7 million California workers. Both mothers and fathers have access to this protection, and it guarantees employees won’t lose health coverage while on leave.
If you are in the midst of expecting a newborn or adopted child and were previously told you do not have access to guaranteed leave, that may have changed if you work for a company with at least 20 employees.
Employers are not legally required to pay you for your time off, but they cannot penalize you for taking the full 12 weeks if you so choose – whether you are the mother or father. If they do, it is a form of employee discrimination. If you are preparing to request leave, know your rights and what your employer can or cannot force you to do when it comes to taking the time you want and need for your new family.