Exciting New Expansions Make Leave More Accessible and Equitable in California

Several exciting new developments in the Golden State will make taking time off work to attend to one's health and family needs more accessible for workers.
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Earlier this month, California – the birthplace of the nation’s first state-level paid family leave program – has built upon its legacy of prioritizing workers’ ability to care for themselves and their loved ones without compromising their economic security with several exciting new leave-related developments.

Building upon the state’s robust worker protections, Governor Newsom approved several new pieces of legislation making paid leave accessible to more workers in the Golden State. Pursuant to SB-951, starting in 2025, low-income workers in California will receive up to 90% of their wages while on paid family and medical leave, making the state’s paid leave program much more equitable for Californians during life’s most critical moments. Additionally, beginning in 2023, workers will have increased rights under the California Family Rights Act and the statewide paid sick time law pursuant to AB-1041. Specifically, this new law gives workers the right to care for one “designated person” per year, in addition to a number of legal or blood relatives who are already covered (such as spouses and children). This is a terrific step forward in the pursuit of a more inclusive family definition in California that honors all families. 

On top of expanding the state’s paid leave protections, Governor Newsom also signed AB-1949, which will give workers a right up to 5 days of unpaid, job-protected bereavement leave upon the death of a family member beginning in 2023. And effective immediately, AB-152 extends the statewide COVID sick leave law, which was set to expire on September 30, 2022, through to December 31, 2022. The state’s paid sick time protections have been a lifeline for many throughout the pandemic, and will continue to be important in allowing workers to both care for themselves and loved ones as new variants circulate and to take time off work to receive and recover from new COVID vaccines.

We offer hearty congratulations to our partners at the California Work & Family Coalition and Legal Aid at Work for these exciting new developments, which will ensure that the state’s leave protections meet the needs of the working families for whom these protections are most critical.

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