Overview of the Parental Leave Act
California’s new Parental Leave Act (PLA) provides up to 12 weeks of leave for new parents. This includes parents who have given birth to a child and parents who have had a child placed with them through foster care or adoption.
It does not offer medical leave so employees that are covered under the new act cannot take time for their own medical needs nor for a family member’s needs. Covered employees can use the leave within the first 12 months after becoming new parents.
Employers must provide employees with a guarantee of the same or similar job upon the employee’s return before the employee starts the leave. If the employer doesn’t provide this guarantee, then the employer is considered to have denied leave to the employee.
In addition, employers must provide group health insurance coverage for the 12 weeks that employees are on leave. Employers can only recover the cost of the health insurance premiums if the employee fails to return to work after the leave as long as the employee did not return due to a serious health condition.
If the employee fails to return to work due to a serious health condition or the employee does return to work, then the cost of the premiums must be born by the employer.
Employees Covered Under the Parental Leave Act
The act covers any employer who has at least 20 employees in a 75-mile radius. CFRA covers any employer who has 50 or more employees and does not include 75-mile radius requirements.
Employees who work at qualified employers must have worked at their employers for the previous 12 months. Further, employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours with their employers during that time frame.
In addition, the State of California, all cities and all subdivisions of the state or city governments fall under the act.
Differences between the Parental Leave Act and the Existing Family Right Act
The Parental Leave Act expands coverage under the Family Rights Act. While the Family Rights act covers employers of 50 or more, the Parental Leave Act covers employers with 20-49 employees.
Furthermore, the CFRA covers leave for medical or serious health conditions of the employee and the employee’s family. CFRA expands the coverage of the Federal FMLA, which covers employers with at least 50 employers in a 75-mile radius. CFRA also provides expanded coverage for family members above what FMLA provides.
In contrast to CFRA, California Pregnancy Disability Leave provides up to 4 weeks of paid leave for employees who are disabled due to pregnancy, including birth.
The new act does not specifically address whether Pregnancy Disability Leave should be taken concurrently with New Parental Leave or consecutively.
Getting Paid While on Leave
California Parental Leave Act isn’t a paid leave. However, California offers required paid sick leave for employees which provides up to 48 hours a year of paid time off.
The act allowed employees to use other paid time off or employer paid time during the Parental Leave.
Further, female employees can be paid for the first 4 weeks of Parental Leave through California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave which provides 4 weeks of paid leave due to a disability caused by pregnancy.