New California Laws Part 4- New Parental Leave Act

New Parental Leave Act:

CA S.B. 63, amends the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) to allow employees who have at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12 months, to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new child bonding purposes, provided the employee works at a worksite that employs at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius. The law applies to private and public employers. 

Covered employers may not refuse to allow an eligible employee to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. To be eligible, an employee must have 12 months of service with the employer, and at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period. Note that the law only expands CFRA’s bonding leave provision -- it does not require employers with fewer than 50 employees to offer CFRA leave for other reasons.

Before the start of a parental leave, the employer must provide the employee with a guarantee of reinstatement to the same or comparable position following the leave. If both parents work for the same employer and are otherwise eligible for leave, the employer can require them to share the 12-week allotment between them.

Leave is unpaid, although employees may use accrued vacation, paid sick time, other accrued paid time off, or other paid or unpaid time off negotiated with the employer, and can apply for California Paid Family Leave benefits. Employers must maintain and pay for group health coverage during a parental leave at the level and under the conditions that coverage would have been provided had the employee continued working. The employer can recover coverage costs if the employee fails to return from leave after the leave entitlement period has expired and the failure to return is for a reason other than the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a serious health condition or other circumstances beyond the employee’s control.

The new law does not affect an employee’s right under California law to take up to four months of leave for pregnancy-related disability, in addition to the 12 weeks of parental leave. Also, the new law does not apply to employees who are already subject to the FMLA and CFRA.

How to Prepare

-Update employee handbooks and personnel policies, and create/update leave request forms and notices with respect to the new leave rights, reinstatement guarantee, and other requirements.

-Train human resource employees and managers about the new leave rights and obligations.