Nicole Rice

Parental leave bill stumbles in Assembly labor committee

By Nicole Rice, Policy Director, Government Relations

Capitol Update, June 24, 2016

In an unexpected turn of events this week, the maternity/paternity leave bill stalled in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, where it should have enjoyed an easy approval along partisan lines. Three of the five Democrat committee members, including Chairman Roger Hernandez, declined to cast a vote for the measure, with the remaining two supporting it. The Republican vote was split with one opposing and the other abstaining along with his Democrat colleagues.

SB 1166 (Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) would have required employers with 10 or more employees to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to bond with a new child. Current law imposes this requirement on those with 50 or more employees. This CMTA-opposed bill would have created an enormous strain and additional liability risk for small manufacturers. Additionally, because the measure created a new and separate leave of absence for maternity/paternity than required under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), it could have provided an opportunity for two separate 12-week leave of absences for employees of large employers if determined to lack conformity with the leaves provided under CFRA and FMLA.

I’d like to think that the bill stumbled in committee solely due to the potential burden and challenge described above; however, it might have had more to do with the politics surrounding the author. Shortly after the bill’s defeat, Senator Jackson released a statement expressing her disappointment with the outcome, vowing to “… reintroduce this bill next year and every year thereafter until our parental leave laws have caught up to the reality of the 21st century family."

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