“California lawmakers are taking a badly needed and very welcome step forward by restructuring the state’s paid family leave program. When the new law takes effect in 2018, fewer mothers will be forced to return to work just days after giving birth, more sons will be able to care for their parents during their final days, and fewer children will be without loved ones when serious illness strikes — all because the state’s lawmakers are raising the wage replacement rate for lower-wage workers from 55 to 70 percent and for many other workers to 60 percent, and eliminating the seven-day waiting period. This is a smart, compassionate move that will do even more than help the families that benefit directly from this expansion — it will strengthen their communities, the health care and education systems, the state, its economy and the country.
More than a decade ago, California pioneered paid family leave in this country. New Jersey and Rhode Island have followed California’s lead. Earlier this month, lawmakers in New York adopted a paid family leave program that, when fully implemented, will provide the state’s workers with up to 12 weeks of paid leave for serious family health and caregiving needs. San Francisco is expanding paid parental leave for families in the city and, virtually every week, more private companies adopt or expand paid leave. This is unprecedented progress — but it is not enough. Still, today, just 13 percent of workers in the United States have paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have paid medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance.
We are in danger of becoming two nations when it comes to family friendly workplace policies. Workers from Alabama to Alaska — in manufacturing as well as high-tech jobs — at small companies and industry giants — urgently need paid family and medical leave. They need Congress to pass the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national insurance program, funded through small employer and employee contributions, that allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious family or medical reasons while receiving a portion of their pay.
We thank Governor Jerry Brown for signing this bill today and cementing California’s leadership on paid leave. We applaud Assembly member Jimmy Gomez for authoring the bill, and every member of the state legislature who supported it. And we commend the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center and the California Work and Family Coalition for their extraordinary work to make this victory possible.
It is time for Congress to follow California’s lead, so all workers in this country will have the paid family and medical leave they need.”