San Francisco’s Great New “Paid Parental Leave Law”

San Francisco is “stepping up”—to become one of the first cities in the nation to allow for the possibility of full pay for up to six (6) weeks for new parents who work in San Francisco.  When coupled with the California’s Paid Family Leave Act, many parents making up to about $106,000 a year will be able to take off six fully paid weeks to bond with a new child.

As usual with new laws to protect workers’ rights, there are lots of details:
• It applies to employees who have worked for an employer more than 180 days and at least 8 hours a week;
• It does NOT apply to any employees of any governmental entity, including the City and County of San Francisco itself;
• It is meant to supplement what the CA Family Leave Act pays, so it is only for employees who contribute to SDI (State Disability Insurance);
• It goes into effect January 1, 2017 for employers with 50 or more employees; July 1, 2017 for employers with 35 or more; January 1, 2018 for employers with 20 or more employees; and not at all for employers with fewer than 20 employees;
• It adds on to the state’s payments (under the California Paid Family Leave Act) of at least $50 a week and no more than 60% of wages for employees earning below 1/3 the state average wages, or 70% if the employee is earning more than 1/3 of the state average wages—so it adds either 40% or 30% of wages, up to a maximum weekly gross wage amount of about $106,000 for 2016 but indexed to inflation to go up each year;
• An employer may require an employee to use up to two (2) weeks of earned vacation to reduce the employer’s liability to four (4) weeks; but the employee may refuse to do this, in which case the employer does not have to pay anything at all, but the employee can still receive partial benefits under the state law;
• Because the State law has been newly amended to eliminate its seven (7) day waiting period, these benefits will be available from the first day of leave.

Wow! That’s a lot of details! So what does it all mean? Just this—when or if you are going to have a child and you work in San Francisco, you need to do a lot of research and figure out how to combine your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) , the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), the Pregnancy Disability Act (PDA), the California Paid Family Leave Act (CPFLA), and this new San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Act.

And—organize and fight for the day when we can join the rest of the industrialized nations of the world with a simple law that gives every parent the right to take paid time off to spend with a new child.  After all, all of us are about “family values,” right?

By Bill Sokol | April 22, 2016

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