Effective 1/1/18, an interesting new leave requirement begins for small employers following the enactment of SB 63 into law. Employers with 20 or more employees within a 75-mile radius must allow up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid “Parental Leave” (also called Baby Bonding leave) to qualified employees. Prior to SB 63, Baby Bonding was only available under FMLA and CFRA, which covers employers with 50 or more employees. Parental leave is available to both parents and may be used for birth, adoption and/or foster placement within the first 12 months of birth or placement. While this is not an amendment to CFRA, the requirements are similar in that an employee must have completed at least one year of service with the employer, and must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous year. While on leave, employers must maintain health care coverage for the duration of the Parental Leave, and the employee is responsible for any regular premium contribution. While an employer may allow shorter leaves, the minimum duration of leave is 2 weeks and the maximum is a total of 12 weeks over a 12-month period, as determined by the employer.
Retaliation through employment action is considered an unlawful practice, as is interfering with, restraining, on denying the exercise of this right to qualified employees. Interestingly, other types of leave under CFRA and FMLA were not included or extended in this bill, only Parental Leave. While on leave, the employee may use sick, vacation or other time off offered by an employer if such time is available to be used for other types of leave. The expanded Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits may be available to employees through