Family Leave Laws May Expand to Include California’s Smaller Businesses

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Fremont CA business law attorneyCalifornia has one of the most progressive Family Leave programs in the nation. It allows workers time off, job holds, and even a provision that provides them with a partial income while caring for a newborn or ill family member. However, legislation feels there is still a gap in the system; as of right now, employees who work at businesses with fewer than 50 employees do not have access to the program. A new bill seeks to change this. If you are a small business owner, learn how your business may be affected, and how you can avoid possible litigation over compliance issues.

California’s Family Leave Act

There are, essentially, two important portions of the Family Leave Act. The first is that an employer must allow employees the right to take up to six weeks of time off to care for an ill family member, or to bond with a newborn, without fear of losing their job. A temporary employee may cover the absent employee’s duties, but the job (or a similar job with the same pay and benefits) must still be available when the employee returns to work. Failure to comply can result in litigation against the company.

The second major aspect of the provision is that employees are provided up to 55 percent of their regular wages for up to six weeks while taking time off to bond with their newborn or care for an ill family member. Starting in 2018, the pay percentage will increase to 70 percent for low income workers (below $20,000 per year) and 60 percent for all other workers. This is usually paid for by employee contribution, not employer contribution, but businesses in San Francisco must cover the remaining portion (currently 45 percent of the employee’s regular wages).

Currently, businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required to comply with the Family Leave Act. This means that workers in small businesses are less likely to take time off of work because they are either unable to afford it, or they fear they will lose their jobs. The new bill (SB 654, or the New Parent Leave Act), would provide these employees with the same job protection, paid leave, and compensation that employees have at larger companies.

How the New Bill Could Affect Your Small Business

Although employers are not currently burdened with the cost of paid family leave, the requirement to hold an employee’s job can be a major burden for smaller companies. In fact, having an employee out sick, even for just a day or two, can put serious stress on a small business. Yet, if the bill passes, employers will no longer have a choice. They will need to comply or risk costly litigation. It can be done, of course, but it takes careful planning.

Our Fremont Business Lawyers Can Help You Prepare

At the Law Offices of Louis J. Willett, will can help your small business take preemptive and proactive steps to prepare for the possible transition. We will guide you through the changes, ensuring you understand your obligations, search for any obstacles or hurdles you may experience along the way, and work to protect you from possible litigation for non-compliance. We will protect your business today, and tomorrow. Schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced Fremont, California business law attorney today to learn more. Call 510-791-2244.


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