Employee Benefits Compliance

S.B. 63: California New Parent Leave Act for Small Employers

parental leave in california

California New Parent Leave Act for Small Employers (SB 63) requires California employers with 20-49 employees within a 75 mile radius to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to new parents for the purpose of bonding with a newborn child, under virtually the same terms and conditions as apply for FMLA and CFRA. FMLA and CFRA apply to private employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius and to all size public employers. The new law is effective January 1, 2018. This leave is in addition to pregnancy disability leave under California Government Code section 12945. Some additional details of the New Parent Leave Act:

Covered Employers

California private sector employers who employ 20-49 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Eligible Employees

Employees who have at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, and who work at a worksite in which the employer employs at least 20 employees within 75 miles.

Terms of Leave

  • Up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
  • Employer must maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes this leave, on the same terms and conditions as for employees who are actively at work.
    • Employer can recover coverage costs if the employee fails to return when leave expires for a reason other than the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a serious health condition or other circumstances beyond the control of the employee — the same circumstances as  under CFRA.
  • If both parents work for the same employer and both are entitled to this parental leave, their combined mandated leave is capped at 12 weeks. The employer may (but is not required to) allow both parents to take this mandated leave simultaneously.

How California New Parent Leave Differs from FMLA

  • Does not provide leave to care for family members with a serious health condition, nor for the employee’s own serious health condition, nor for pregnancy disability, nor for family members’ military deployment or injuries.
  • Until January 1, 2020, an employer who receives a right-to-sue notice could, within 60 days, require all parties to participate in a Mediation Program provided by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, in lieu of litigation.

S.B. 63 was approved by Governor Brown on October 12, 2017, and adds Section 12945.6 of the Government Code, relating to employment.