Parental Leave Expands for California Employees

California employees with blossoming families got an extra bit of good news this month. On October 12 of this year, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law expanding the California’s leave of absence rules so that more workers can spend time and bond with their newborn babies. This law will take effect January 2018 and expand the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to cover smaller businesses with fewer employees.

While the FMLA and CFRA have long provided job-protected time off for workers in order to spend time with newborns, this only applied to companies with at least fifty employees. The new law expands leave protection to California workers employed by companies with twenty to forty-nine workers. This is a big deal for women seeking to take maternity leave but who work for smaller employers.

According to a news article published on October 12 by the local Orange County Register, this expansion will cover sixteen percent of California’s labor force that had heretofore been neglected by existing law.

What does this expansion offer?

The new expansion will specifically allow employees to take up to twelve weeks of job-protected leave in order to bond with newborn children, recently adopted children or a recently placed foster child. This means an employer can’t terminate, suspend, fine or otherwise discriminate against an employee for exercising their right to parental leave because that would be pregnancy discrimination.

While the law does not require the employer to provide the worker’s salary during the leave, the employer is prohibited from refusing to pay or maintain health coverage supplied under a group plan during the leave.

Who qualifies for this expansion?

In order for a worker to qualify under the new act, just like under FMLA or CFRA, he or she needs to meet the following requirements:


  • The employee has been employed by the company for over twelve months
  • The employee has at least one thousand two hundred fifty hours of service with the employer during the previous twelve months

What happens if a worker is denied leave?

While this expansion is not yet in effect, an employee who is denied their rightful leave under the law will have a variety of different options. A good lawyer will look at the facts of the case and seek the best outcome for the client. This can involve seeking lost back pay, wages, pain and suffering damages and possibly punitive damages.

This is a great victory for working parents and children in California. With more parents struggling to balance family and work responsibilities, no one should have to choose between caring for their newborn baby and keeping their job.

An employee who wins their case may be reinstated at their job if wrongfully terminated or entitled to monetary compensation. If you have questions about the recent changes to the family leave law or some other employment issues, contact us for more information.

Employment rights need to be addressed immediately. The window for legal action might close if you do not act right away. Contact Von Esch Law Group here for a consultation.


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