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Governor Brown Signs Historic Expansion of California’s Paid Family Leave

Governor Brown Signs Historic Expansion of California’s Paid Family Leave

April 11, 2016

AB 908 Will Help Low Income Workers Take Paid Leave

Sacramento: Today California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 908 (Gomez) which will help more low income workers take Paid Family Leave (PFL) to bond with a new baby or care for a seriously ill family member. It will also raise the wage replacement for workers on State Disability Insurance caring for their own serious health conditions. “This is a historic step that will allow more Californians to care for their families and themselves,” said Jenya Cassidy, Director, of the California Work & Family Coalition. “We applaud Assemblymember Gomez’s leadership in recognizing the need and fighting with us to make Paid Family Leave more equitable for California families.”

California Work & Family Coalition organizations led the campaign that passed Paid Family Leave – the first in the nation – in 2002. Paid Family Leave provides up to 6 weeks of partial pay to workers who take time off to bond with a new baby or care for a seriously ill family member. Even though the law passed in 2002, Coalition organizations continue to work together to ensure that Paid Family Leave truly benefits all workers and their families. Sandra Poole, California Black Health Network, says that raising the wage replacement will make a huge difference in who benefits from the program, “AB 908 will make a huge difference for low income workers and their families. Paid Family Leave should work for all workers.” According to the Employment Development Department’s recent Market Research study on Paid Family Leave, low wage replacement has been a barrier to low income workers take up of Paid Family Leave.

What AB 908 Does

AB 908 will provide greater economic security and equity in California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) and State Disability Insurance (SDI) program by raising the current wage replacement rates and addressing barriers to usage. It will raise the weekly benefits for PFL/SDI from the current 55%, to 60% or 70% depending on income.

AB 908 will also do away with the current 7 day unpaid waiting period for workers taking Paid Family Leave and will require the EDD to produce a report to the Legislature by July 1, 2017 on potential costs and benefits for eliminating and/or modifying the current waiting period for SDI.

The wage replacement rates under AB 908 will be operative from January 1, 2018 until January 1, 2022. The law directs the EDD to produce a report by March 1, 2021 in order to examine the impact on utilization. This will help stakeholders determine if the wage replacement is enough and also look at other factors that impact take up.

For long-time Coalition member, Mary Ignatius, Statewide Organizer for Parent Voices, AB 908 is a huge step in the right direction “Parent Voices members – like many California workers – have been left out of Paid Family Leave. For a minimum wage worker, living on 55% of your income is impossible. AB 908 will help so many families be there for their loved ones when they need it most.”

Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, author of the bill says it is unrealistic to expect a worker who is already living paycheck to paycheck to use a program for 6 weeks at nearly half of their wages. “That’s why I authored AB 908, to fix this inequity and ensure all who pay into this vital program can afford to use it, regardless of their income.”

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Contact: Jenya Cassidy
Tel: (510) 387-4920
Email: jenya[at]workfamilyca.org
Website: www.WorkFamilyCa.org

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