New law extends paid family leave benefits from six to eight weeks and increases the rate of pay
THE State of California has, since 2004, been a champion of paid family leave (PFL) for those nursing a newborn child or caring for a sick relative, and the new recommendation from the governor rectifies that.
As a part of his recently released Paid Family Leave Task Force Recommendations and yearly state budget for 2020-2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed increased job protections for workers and extending the benefits of the state’s PFL program to 12 weeks.
Last year, the state had passed a law, SB 83, that increased PFL from 6 to 8 weeks effective July 2020 as a way to fulfill Newsom’s goal to expand PFL to six months (for two parents if leave is consecutive) by the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
(Newsom’s latest 12-week expansion recommendation was a legislative requirement in order to reach that goal of six months of PFL.)
Additionally, Newsom recommended increasing wage replacement from 60 or 70% to 75 or 90% of the applicants’ salaries. (The rate depends on an individual’s annual earnings.)
And Newsom’s extension of PFL is widely supported among the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) electorate of which an overwhelmingly 81% of voters are aware, according to a recent poll from Change Research.
But the poll shines a light on the disparity between awareness of the program and application of it. Only 17% of AAPIs have accessed the California PFL program and 60% didn’t know that PFL is entirely funded by employees’ payroll tax deductions, and employers do not pay into the program.
In other words, PFL is something that employed AAPI’s already pay for through the California State Disability Insurance (CASDI) tax that can be found on payroll documents.
First 5 California, an organization dedicated to educating guardians about caring for a child in its critical first five years of life, said in a statement that the AAPI community should take advantage of “this benefit they’ve already paid for.”
“Especially with the potential expansion of Paid Family Leave, women and men are better empowered to achieve their professional goals and balance the responsibilities of career and parenting/caregiving,” the statement read.
PFL has been a national talking point and lawmakers have proposed increasing the benefits of PFL and establishing a federal PFL program for decades.
As previously reported in the Asian Journal, PFL programs financially support employees who take time off from work to care for a newborn or a family member with a severe illness. Specifically, PFL beneficiaries could use the paid time off to bond with a new child, whether it be by birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
Additionally, PFL could apply to individuals who need to care for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or registered domestic partner. For specific eligibility requirements or to apply, visit the California Employment Development Department (EDD) website.
In 2004, California was the first state to institute a PFL program. According to California First 5, PFL is directly linked to “higher rates of breastfeeding and improvements in overall child health.”
According to the EDD, more than 18 million Californians have benefited from the program.
“We are thrilled that the Governor agrees that strong families need strong Paid Family Leave policy and that voters are in turn ready to make expansion a reality,” Erin Gabel, chief deputy director at First 5 California and Paid Family Leave Task Force appointee, said in a statement. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)