On October 9, 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 392. AB 392 adds Section 395.10 to the California Military and Veterans Code and creates a new leave of absence right for spouses of military personnel. Section 395.10 takes effect immediately.

Section 395.10 requires employers with over 25 employees to provide each “qualified” employee up to 10 days of unpaid leave, if the employee's spouse returns home on a military leave from deployment to a combat zone while on active, reserve, or National Guard duty during a period of military conflict. A “qualified” employee is one who works an average of 20 or more hours per week. Independent contractors are not considered “qualified” employees. The term “spouse” includes registered domestic partners.

In order to take leave, the qualified employee must provide notice to the employer of his or her intention to take leave within 2 business days of receiving official notice that the spouse will be on leave from deployment. The employee must also submit written documentation to the employer certifying that the military member will be on military leave from deployment during the time of the requested leave.

According the Diana Tsudik of our Los Angeles office, California employers with over 25 employees should modify their policies to reflect the availability of this new leave, circulate the revised policies and provide blank certification forms that their employees can fill out to request the leave. California employers should also note that it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against a qualified employee for requesting or taking leave permitted under the new law.