Family leave law in California can be challenging to stay abreast of. New laws and overlapping regulations require diligence on the part of HR managers to maintain compliance.
On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 63, also known as the New Parent Leave Act, which became effective January 1, 2018.
Prior to this legislation, only employers with 50 or more employees were required by law to provide job-protection leave as mandated by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
The result of California's New Parent Leave Act is employees of small companies now have job-protection leave similar that of the which was already required from employers with 50 or more employees.
Under the FMLA, employers with 50 or more workers, are required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year for qualified employees to either bond with a new child, or care for an ill family member.
How the New California Labor Law Works
California's New Parent Leave Act (SB 63) mandates that employers with at least 20 and up to 49 employees must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected parental leave to bond with a new child. In addition, new parents may take this leave at any time within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement.
Eligible employees is must have worked at least 12 months with their employer, have at least 1,250 hours of work at that place of employment during the previous 12-months, and must work at a location where the employer has at least 20 employees within 75 miles.
Note that SB63 does not apply if an employee happens to be covered under both CFRA and the FMLA.
The new legislation requires these businesses to provide their qualified employees with 12 weeks of leave, and to guarantee their employment when they return. However, this bill does not require the leave to be paid.
Many smaller business owners, and Senators who voted against the bill, contend that the new law creates potentially crippling costs for small businesses. In addition, there are potential jobs cuts that may arise as businesses try to get under the 20 employee threshold.
Such actions on the part of managers and owners could also spell trouble for those employers.
According to a post on the FindLaw blog,
For some small businesses... operational changes could help to avoid being required to comply. For example, businesses that employ just a few more than 20 employees can evaluate staffing needs and cut down to 19. Work can be outsourced to independent contractors or third party vendors to help reduce the workforce.
If it appears obvious that you are conducting layoffs to stay clear of any government compliance matters, employees may feel unfairly singled out for termination, which can result in wrongful termination claims.
California Paid Parental Leave Changes
As of January 1, 2018 the wage replacement rate for the state’s Paid Family Leave program was increased from 55 percent to 70 percent for those earners below one-third of California’s average weekly wage and to 60 percent for those who earn more than one-third of the weekly wage.
The State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) for California, as determined by the United States Department of Labor for the first quarter of 2017, is $1172.57.
HR Management and HR Compliance
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), compliance is a crucial part of the role of the HR staff in regards to family leave laws,
Compliance with these laws is critical for any organization with employees in California because liabilities for noncompliance can be costly from legal, employee relations and employer brand perspectives.
HR's Role The HR professional's role in managing leaves of absence in California is as follows:
- Understand the relevant employment laws in California and employers' legal responsibilities.
- Educate managers to recognize when employees' absences may fall under a leave law and to communicate such absences with HR.
- Ensure that organizational policies comply with the laws.
- Understand the interaction of such laws with other state and federal laws.
- Communicate and assist employees in exercising rights under the laws.
Changes in regulations increase the potential of risk for employers, require new workplace postings, and possibly require updates to existing workplace policies. Accuchex recommends that employers consult with experienced employment counsel to ensure compliance with family leave laws.
You Have a Partner for HR Management Best Practices
Accurate and timely management and compliance practices are required for payroll professional in every business. Maintaining this can be challenging, but there are options.
Accuchex is a reputable payroll management services provider and can not only relieve you of the burden of your ongoing payroll process demands, but can potentially prove to be a more cost-effective solution, as well.
Click the button below to learn what you need to know about labor law in California. For more immediate information, feel free to call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.