Employing the Modern Family

“I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible — oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.”

Tina Fey

In 2016, 70.5% of women with children under the age of 18 participated in the labor force. The “traditional” family is no longer the norm. Families, in which the father is the sole breadwinner make up only 27% of families with children under the age of 18. In 61.1% of families, both parents are employed. For the vast majority of working parents, the work day begins long before they clock in at 9 a.m. and don’t end with 5 p.m. happy hour with their colleagues. Almost three out of every four mothers juggle board meetings, conference calls, and fast- approaching deadlines with middle of the night feedings, soccer practice, and homework.

So what does that mean for the businesses that employ these modern day superheroes? California has long offered the most employee-friendly protections in the country and now even more employees will soon fall under those safeguards. Under the California Family Rights Act, new parents who work for an employer with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius were provided with twelve-weeks of unpaid, protected leave. This covered approximately 60% of California workers. However, Governor Brown recently signed SB 63 (the “New Parent Leave Act”), which extends those protections to employees who work for businesses with as few as 20 employees. The law took effect on January 1, 2018, and applies to employees (both male and female) who:

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

Besides the protected leave, the new law prohibits an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes this leave. And the law carries an inherent risk of litigation by labeling an employer’s failure to provide requested leave an “unlawful employment practice.”

What can an employer do to ensure compliance 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. Since employees at multiple worksites are aggregated together to reach the 20 employee threshold, the law could affect worksites that have substantially fewer than 20 employees.
  2. Carefully review and revise your leave policies to comply with the new requirements of the law.
  3. Inform your employees about their rights under the New Parent Leave Act by providing them with a written guarantee of employment in the same or a comparable position following the leave.
  4. Ensure that no adverse employment action is taken against the employee for exercising their rights under the New Parent Leave Act.

For more information about this new law or to discuss any of your employment concerns, please contact one of our employment law attorneys at Hall Griffin.


Stephanie M. Stringer, Hall Griffin, Associate

John A Cone, Jr., Hall Griffin, Of Counsel

Go Back To Insights