Under a new law to combat workplace inequities, some 2.7 million California mothers and fathers will gain the right to a long-sought benefit: 12 weeks of job-protected leave to bond with their newborns.
“California is showing the way—showing the way on kids, families, women and husbands as well,” Gov. Jerry Brown said at a Sacramento ceremony as he signed the New Parent Leave Act on Thursday, Oct. 12, surrounded by a crowd of women legislators.
The law covers 16 percent of the state’s labor force — those who work for employers with 20 to 49 workers.
Employees of larger businesses already have the right to job-protected leave under federal law. California’s initiative takes aim at the disparity which results in less bonding time for many babies based only on the size of their parents’ employers.
“This is a great victory for working parents and children in California,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), author of the legislation, Senate Bill 63. “ With more parents struggling to balance work and family responsibilities…, no one should have to choose between caring for their newborn and keeping their job.”
Children’s advocates applauded the new law. “Governor Brown did a wonderful thing to sign this bill,” said George Halvorson, chair of the California Children and Families Commission and former CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “The first months of life are critical for the cognitive and emotional development of each child.”
The measure was strongly opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce, an influential force in Sacramento, which labeled it a “job killer.” Most of the legislature’s Democrats supported the bill, while most Republicans opposed it.
Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) was among those voting against the bill because, she said, “SB 63…