Law Expands Employment Benefits for the Modern Family

If anything can be said about the modern workforce, itʼs that there is nothing “traditional” about it. In 2016, 70.5% of women with children under 18 participated in the labor force. Almost three out of every four mothers juggle board meetings with midnight feedings, soccer practice and homework. Fathers likewise balance competing demands of work and home.

And employers must adapt their policies to accommodate these modern-day superheroes. Previously, new parents who worked for an employer with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius were provided with 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave. However, Governor Brown recently approved the New Parent Leave Act, extending those protections to employees of businesses with as few as 20 employees. The law takes effect on January 1, 2018 and covers employees who:

  • Worked over 12 months at the company;
  • Worked at least 1,250 hours during the prior 12-month period; and
  • Work at a worksite where there are at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Additionally, an employer cannot refuse to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes this leave.

This change will expand the number of employees who qualify for benefits, and the number of employers who must provide them. So how can an employer comply with this new law?

  1. Know whether it applies to you! The protected leave has been extended to worksites with at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius. If you have several locations in a small geographic area, the law may apply to a worksite with fewer than 20 employees.
  2. Carefully review and revise your leave policies to comply with these new requirements.
  3. Inform your employees about their rights under the New Parent Leave Act by providing a written guarantee of employment in the same or comparable position following the leave.
  4. Ensure that no adverse employment action is taken against the employee for exercising these rights.

As the Legislature nurtures the modern family by increasing benefits for the modern employee, it is incumbent on employers to keep pace with these changes.


John A Cone, Jr., Hall Griffin, Of Counsel
Stephanie M. Stringer, Hall Griffin, Associate

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