The COVID-19 pandemic brought many things to a halt last year, but not new employment laws that were already set to take effect were still on track to becoming a reality for employers – whether they are ready or not. One such law is Senate Bill 83 (SB 83), signed 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 to eight 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, earned 5-18 months before their claim start date, for up to 8 weeks within any 12-month period. The length of time worked at the employee’s current job does not affect eligibility.
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).
Senate Bill 83: New Changes
SB 83 was Newsom’s 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.
SB 83 is expected to have an even bigger expansion by 2022. This law requires that the Governor submit a proposal extending PFL to six months by 2022 as well as adding other benefits. 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.
On January 1, 2021, the California PFL expanded through the addition of a new claim called Military Assist. This new claim allows 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. Keep in mind that the new revisions to this law still do not create a right to take a protected leave of absence, only the ability to collect PFL benefits.
When filing a PFL claim, employees can receive benefit payments via EDD Debit Card or check. If eligible, benefit payments are issued on the EDD Debit Card or by check within 24 hours of processing the employee’s certification. If the check by mail option is chosen, expect to wait 7-10 days for delivery.
Next Steps for Employers
California employers are responsible for complying with these new changes to California’s Paid Family Leave policy. 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
- Update their existing policies and program if they have a voluntary disability insurance/paid family leave (CA VDI/PFL) policy in place
- 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, 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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