Parental Leave for Families
The basics of paid family leave
Thanks to the 2018 expansion of parental leave for families law, California moms (and partners!) can receive time off with job protection and partial pay within a year from the birth, adoption or fostering of a child. Instead of scraping to get by until you return to work, receiving only 55 percent of your salary, the new parental leave law allows the time you need to bond with your new child.
Check with your human resources department to see what your company offers. Some companies realize the benefit of healthy families and provide more than the minimum leave required by law. It’s rare, but some companies provide full salary during parental leave. My husband was given 2 weeks off with 100% pay direct from his company, in addition to what the state offers. That made those first 2 weeks a no brainer.
Private companies with at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius or at least 50 anywhere must follow the California Parental Leave Act (CPLA), which holds positions open for qualifying employees and provides unpaid leave. Smaller companies aren’t required to do so – for example when my son was born, my hubby worked for a start up, so there was no paid time off. If you’ve worked for your company for the past 12 months and have put in a minimum of 1,250 hours, you qualify.
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) applies to companies of 50 or more. It offers up to 12 weeks’ leave (six paid, six unpaid), providing the employee has worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the 12 months before leave would start.
Qualifying employees who earn less than a one-third of California’s average quarterly wage will now be paid 70 percent of their weekly wages for up to six weeks. Those who make more than one-third of the state’s average quarterly wage ($5,229.98, as of 2018) will be paid 60 percent of their weekly wages for up to six weeks. Leaves start only once the child comes home.
Complexities of paid leave for families
Even with a routine pregnancy, Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) provides benefits for up to four weeks before the birth. And benefits for six weeks after delivery, longer if you have a disability related to the pregnancy. PDL applies to both part-time and new employees. This paid leave may be used separately from other forms of parental leave. You can take PFL as needed; it doesn’t have to be all at once, unlike PDL.
While using PFL and CFRA leave, you still receive health benefits and retain your seniority with the company. The funding from PFL comes from a standard paycheck deduction that all employees pay, not just parents.
You may also be able to use any paid time off (PTO) to help ease the transition into parenthood. So be sure to reserve your PTO hours. That is unless your company maintains a “use it or lose it” policy; and your baby is due after the first of the year.
Consider tag-teaming to make sure one of you is home with your new child until everyone’s settled in. Breastfeeding moms especially should also see if they could work partially at home for awhile. Which can help establish a good nursing routine at home.
It is best to ask your company’s human resources department about these policies. And do so well in advance of when you need time off to ensure you understand.