Senate Bill 63 significantly expands job-protected leave for millions of Californians. The new law allows employees who work for a company with 20 or more employees within a 75-mile radius to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a new child within one year of the child's birth, adoption or foster care placement. The law applies to both new mothers and new fathers.

Under prior law, employers were required to provide baby-bonding leave to employees, but only if they employed 50 or more individuals. The new law extends the requirement to private, state and municipal companies employing between 20 and 49 workers.

To be eligible, employees must have more than 12 months of service and at least 1,250 hours of service with the covered employer during the 12-month period prior to commencing leave. Employees are entitled to use any type of accrued paid time off, such as paid vacation and sick leave, during the parental leave. In addition, the leave is job-protected, meaning employers must guarantee employment in the same or a comparable position upon an employee's return from leave.

Employers must maintain and pay for the employee's continued coverage under an employer-sponsored health plan at the same level and under the same conditions that coverage would have been provided had the employee continued to work.

Practical Implications

California employers with 20 to 49 employees will be covered by the baby-bonding leave law for the first time. Before January 1, 2018, they should be prepared to have legally-compliant policies and forms in place for use with their employees.