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Bryant Whitten, LLP

New Family Medical Leave Act law may set tone for California

American businesses have long been behind the rest of the developed world in terms of policies that promote a healthy work/life balance and time off. In many other countries, mandated time off for new parents after the birth of a baby and time to care for ailing family members is customary. On the heels of one state's recent record-breaking announcement on raising its minimum wage to $15/hour, the state announced this week that it is also making major changes in its family medical leave act policy that could influence California's policies in the near future.

This new law will give employees who are new parents as well as those who are dealing with a family member's serious illness 12 weeks of paid time off. In addition, it will allow someone to take time off to make arrangements if a family member is called for active military duty. California, Rhode Island and New Jersey are the only other three other states that have already implemented a law providing time off for these situations. Washington passed legislation, but it has not been put into practice.

Many critics of laws allowing for this much time off say that it is financially unsustainable and difficult to implement, especially for small businesses. The law passed in New York will fund this policy by an increase of $1 in payroll tax per week for every employee. Also, the cost savings because of employee retention that businesses may see could be a significant (though more intangible) benefit to a company's bottom line.

As California already has generous family medical leave act policy in comparison to other states, it would not be surprising to see a policy change in the near future. Workers may benefit from an attorney's advice if they are unaware of the current FMLA laws in California. In addition, an attorney can help keep clients abreast of any changes as they take place and are implemented in the state.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, "New York Just Passed America's Best Paid Family Leave Law", Emily Peck, April 4, 2016

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