Gov. Brown signs legislation to expand paid family leave in California

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Monday, April 11, 2016
A family bonds with their newborn at a hospital in this undated photo.
A family bonds with their newborn at a hospital in this undated photo.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- California Governor Brown signed legislation to give workers as much as 70 percent of their pay for six weeks when they take time off to bond with their newborn or care for a sick relative.

"Families should be able to afford time off to take care of a new child or a member of their family who becomes ill," said Governor Brown. "This expansion makes sense for employers and employees."

Under the legislation, California's Paid Family Leave program will increase wage replacements from the current level of 55 percent to either 60 or 70 percent, depending on the applicant's income.

California's program is funded by worker contributions and is operated by the state's Employment Development Department. A legislative analysis estimates increased leave pay will cost that fund about $348 million in 2018 and $587 million annually by 2021, according to a legislative analysis. The state EDD has enough in savings from workers' contributions to cover the additional benefits, the analysis said.

Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, wrote the bill after a state review found that low-income workers are the least likely to use the benefit. Nine in 10 workers who take paid family leave use it after the birth of a child.

Many Republicans opposed the legislation but there was little debate about it in the state Legislature and several GOP lawmakers declined to offer comment Monday.

Just last week, San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to approve six weeks of fully paid leave for new parents.

Federal law requires private businesses with 50 or more employees and all government agencies to allow workers to take 12 weeks of unpaid family leave.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.