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Paid maternity leave a no-go for California teachers

A new bill that would have allowed teachers more time off to be with their babies was vetoed by the governor. The bill passed the California legislature only to be struck down at the last turn. The state governor says that he has taken steps to allow for maternity leave, and that further benefits are best bargained for at the local level. 

The bill would have granted all teachers and employees of California school systems six weeks of fully paid maternity leave, starting as early as next year, but as the bill was written, no funding for the paid leave was provided. The governor has signed two previous bills that allow for differential pay for new parents in the school system. Differential pay is the teacher's rate less the cost of employing their substitute. 

Another alternative that some have suggested is for school districts to participate in the California State Disability Insurance program. Most school districts do not participate in the program, which pays a partial rate for maternity leave as well as non-work-related illness and injury. School districts are currently eligible to participate. The program is employee-funded through deductions from payroll. 

California schools wish to attract highly qualified applicants. Some had hoped to offer paid maternity leave as a competitive benefit, but if they wish to do so, it would have to be independently financed. Current rules obligate most employees to use available sick time as a means to get paid during their leave. While paid leave is not yet a legally required benefit, new parents are able to take protected unpaid leave from their jobs without fear of losing their position. If a person has been denied time off or terminated because of maternity leave, they may choose to contact an attorney for information about their legal options. 

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Gov. Brown vetoes bill that would have given teachers paid maternity leave", Kathleen Pender, Oct. 16, 2017

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