CALIFORNIA EMPLOYEE LEAVE LAW ALERT

California employers and human resources professionals take note, the California legislature continues to enact new employee leave laws. Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383), significantly expands the state’s existing family and medical leave program, effective January 1, 2021.

SB 1383 REQUIRES SMALL EMPLOYERS TO PROVIDE PROTECTED LEAVE

SB 1383 requires employers with at least five employees to provide eligible employees with up to 12 work weeks of unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period for certain covered reasons. The employer must maintain and pay for the employee’s health insurance coverage for the duration of the leave.

SB 1383 also expands the covered family members and potential reasons for which an eligible employee may take leave:

  • Eligible employees may take leave to bond with a new child of the employee or to care for themselves or a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner.
  • Covered employers that employ both parents of a child are required to grant up to 12 weeks of leave to each employee. Under pre-existing law, the employer only had to grant both employees a combined total of 12 weeks of leave.
  • The new law requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave during any 12-month period due to a qualifying reason related to the covered active duty (or call to covered active duty) of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States.
  • Lastly, SB 1383 does not permit an employer to refuse reinstatement of “key employees” as previously allowed by the CFRA under qualifying circumstances.

Under SB 1383, employees will still need to meet eligibility requirements, including 12 months of service and 1,250 hours worked, to qualify for family and medical leave.

With the recent passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, California employers are already facing increasingly complex employee leave laws. Now they must be prepared for even more changes in 2021. For employers with 5 to 49 employees, the magnitude of changes under SB 1383 cannot be overstated and will require modifications to employee handbooks and leave programs by 2021.

As DDWK closely monitors this evolving situation, do not hesitate to contact us for assistance with employee leave program implementation and leave eligibility issues under any of the California leave laws.

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