California employers with 25 or more employees must now provide up to 10 days of unpaid leave to qualified employees whose spouses return on leave from military duty under certain circumstances. This law is similar to one passed by New York State earlier this year. To qualify for leave, all of the following criteria must be met:
- The employee must work an average of at least 20 hours per workweek;
- The employee must be the spouse (or registered domestic partner) of a military member, i.e., a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, the National Guard or Reserves;
- The military member must have been deployed during a period of military conflict. If the employee's spouse is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, then the member must also have been deployed to an area designated as a combat theater or combat zone by the President of the United States;
- The employee must provide notice to the employer of the intention to take leave within two business days of receiving official notice that the military member will be returning on leave; and
- The employee must provide written documentation to the employer certifying that the military member will be on leave from deployment.
Designated as emergency legislation, this new law took effect immediately on October 9, 2007, when signed by California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This new leave will not affect any other leave-of-absence rights employees may otherwise have under existing state or federal laws. Additionally, employees who take this leave are protected by law from retaliation for requesting or taking this leave.