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California Increasing Family Leave Benefits In 2018

Bridget Coila / Flickr

Bridget Coila / Flickr

This is part of our series on new California laws taking effect in 2018.

Imagine being a brand-new dad – with a baby who needs to go to the doctor or hospital every couple of days because of a skin condition, and a mom still recovering from a high fever during childbirth.

But your employer only lets you take a few days off before demanding your return to work. Otherwise, you’d lose your job.

That’s what a Bay Area man named Alfonso said he faced two-and-a-half years ago when his daughter was born. He declined to give his last name to avoid angering his employer at the time.

”I spoke to my supervisor and I asked her if I could take family leave,” Alfonso recounted. ”And she said, all I can let you have was three to four days max, and then you have to come back to work – if not, you’re going to lose your job.”

He said it stressed him out at work, and distracted him because it was always on his mind.

“My daughter needed me to be there for her to get taken care of. But I also needed to be able to keep my job cause I needed to put a roof for them, and food on the table,” Alfonso said.

But for many California parents like Alfonso, help is on the way in the form of two new laws taking effect in 2018.

Parents who want to take time off work with their newborns could soon be eligible for both a financial boost and some job security.

Until now, only employers with at least 50 workers had to provide job-protected family leave. A new law approved earlier this year by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) drops that minimum to 20, to cover companies like Alfonso’s.

A second new law, authored in 2016 by Assemblyman (now Congressman) Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), increases paid family leave and disability insurance benefits to Californians who pay into the system through payroll deductions. The current 55 percent of a worker’s salary goes up to either 60 or 70 percent, depending on how much the employee earns.

Both measures take effect on Jan.  1, 2018.

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