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San Francisco Leads the Way in Bolstering Wage Replacement for Family Leave

California employees have benefited from a paid family leave program since 2004, but a new law in San Francisco builds upon that program and allows workers to recoup 100 percent of their income while on leave. The statewide 2004 program, Paid Family Leave, relies on employee payroll contributions to the California State Disability Insurance Fund to pay workers 55 percent of their income when they take up to six weeks of leave to bond with a new child or to care for eligible family members. In April of this year, Governor Brown approved a bill that increases the amount to 70 percent for qualified workers. The increase will take effect the first day of 2018. Now San Francisco has trumped even that move.

Paid Parental Leave Law for Bonding with New Child (PPLLBNC)

The new family leave city ordinance with the unwieldy long name of Paid Parental Leave Law for Bonding with New Child is the first of its kind in the nation. It will initially apply to employers with at least 50 employees, requiring that they supplement Paid Family Leave benefit payments, bringing the 55 percent wage compensation amount to a total 100 percent of the worker's salary. Some of the salient features of this new law include the following:

  • The law addresses wage compensation for eligible leave, not the right to take leave.
  • It applies only to leave for bonding with a new child, either natural or adopted, or new foster child.
  • It does not apply to government employers.
  • Length of employment and geographical restrictions apply.
  • Some part-time and temporary workers may be eligible.
  • The benefits take effect January 1, 2017 beginning with employers who employ 50 or more workers, but smaller businesses will be phased in over time, including employers with 35 or more employees July 1, 2017 and those with at least 20 employees applying on January 1, 2018.
  • The current total maximum weekly benefit is capped at $2,053 per week: $1,129 under California's PFL and $924 under San Francisco's PPL.
  • The law's requirements may be waived by collective bargaining.
  • Retaliation for requesting benefits under this program is prohibited.
  • An employer's failure to comply may lead to penalties and a civil action.

One major difference in this law and the statewide Leave Act is funding. This supplemental leave for San Francisco employees is paid for by the employer, whereas, the funding for PFL comes from payroll contributions to the state insurance fund. The employer contribution will start at the higher rate of up to 45 percent, but once the statewide change Governor Brown signed into law takes effect, San Francisco employers will be required to pay a smaller percentage to bring the wage compensation to 100 percent.

If you work in California and believe you may have a claim under the existing Paid Family Leave Act, contact a knowledgeable employee rights lawyer to discuss your situation. An experienced employment law attorney may also advise you on how the new San Francisco law can affect you.


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