The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many things to a halt, but new employment laws that were already set to take effect this year are still on track to becoming a reality for employers – whether they are ready or not. One such law is SB 83, signed last year by Governor Gavin Newsom on June 27, 2019, and effective since July 1, 2020.

With everything going on, it is understandable that SB 83 would fall off an employer’s radar. So to help you understand what this exactly means for you and your business, here is a quick guide on the new changes you should expect.

What is California’s Paid Family Leave Law?

In order to understand SB 83, you must first learn about California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL). Also known as the family temporary disability insurance, California’s PFL program provides six weeks of wage replacement benefits to employees who need to take time off from work to:

  • Care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or domestic partner; or 
  • Bond with a minor child within one year of the birth or placement of the child through foster care or adoption.

If eligible, employees will receive compensation of 60%-70% of their gross wages during their leave.  

It is important to note that California’s PFL benefits do not provide job protection. The PFL simply provides wage replacement. In order to ensure job protection, employees must be eligible for other leave laws such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). 

SB 83: New Changes

SB 83 is Newsom’s latest push to lead the country in providing better paid leave benefits for employees. The bill extends the maximum duration of paid family leave (PFL) benefits from six to eight weeks, giving a parent an additional two weeks to bond with their new child. Birth mothers may take an additional six to eight weeks of leave to recover from childbirth under California’s Disability Insurance program, further extending their bonding time.

But that’s not all; SB 83 plans for an even bigger expansion by 2021-22. SB 83 requires that the Governor submit a proposal extending PFL to six months by 2022. However, these six months will be limited to bonding purposes, and it represents the total duration if two parents claim their PFL benefits in succession. The bill states:

The program currently provides parents with up to six weeks of paid leave to bond with a new minor child. Collectively, these paid leave benefits provide families with approximately three months of paid leave when used consecutively. The expansion of the program would double this availability to a total of six months so that infant children can stay with their parent or a close family member for the first six months of the child’s life.

In addition, SB 83 requires that the proposal assess and address the following items:

  • Job protections for employees since California PFL does not provide employment protections when employees are absent from work. 
  • A wage replacement rate increase of up to 90% for low-wage workers.
  • A plan to implement and fund expanded PFL benefits. 

The California PFL will expand in another way on January 1, 2021, allowing an employee to receive benefits for leave taken for a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of the employee’s family member in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Next Steps for Employers

California employers are responsible for complying with these changes in the CA PFL program. If the PFL applies to your business, employers should:

  • Update any employment policies, employee handbooks, or other documents that relate to California Paid Family Leave.
  • If they have a voluntary disability insurance/paid family leave (CA VDI/PFL) policy in place: Update their existing policies and program.
  • Work with applicable vendors to ensure compliance with this new requirement.
  • Train appropriate personnel, such as human resources, benefits, supervisors, managers, etc., on these changes and how it will affect their workforce.

As you modify your leave policies, we recommend that employers start preparing for the six‑month PFL extension. It is likely that the Governor’s proposal for six-months of paid leave will be approved. As such, connecting with your employment attorney to revise or draft a leave policy consistent with these new leave laws is a wise decision.  

If you need assistance with SB 83 or any employment matters, please contact Hackler Flynn & Associates.

DISCLAIMER: Content within this post should not be considered legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Communications made through this post do not create an attorney-client relationship. Hackler Flynn & Associates is not responsible for any content that you may access from third-party resources that may be accessed through or linked to this post. Hackler Flynn & Associates is only licensed to practice in California.

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