This is the fourth in a series of articles on changes to 2018 employment laws. An important new law requires small employers to provide new parents with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave. Other laws affect state wage replacement benefits.
Parental Leave for Small Employers
SB 63, the New Parent Leave Act, requires small businesses with 20 or more employees to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. SB 63 only requires employers to provide parental leave; it does not require employers to provide leave for other reasons, such as a family member’s medical issue. The Act covers all employers with 20 or more employees.
To be eligible for the new parent leave, an employee must:
This new law will have the greatest impact on employers with 20 to 49 employees who are not currently required to provide baby bonding leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or the state California Family Rights Act.
If an employee takes this leave, an employer must maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan at the same level and conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued working.
Before the leave starts, an employer must provide the employee with a guarantee of reinstatement to the same or comparable position. Failure to provide the guarantee will be deemed a violation of the law, as if the employer refused to provide leave.
Under SB 63, an employer can be sued if an employee alleges that the employer:
Paid Family Leave and SDI Benefits
Keep in mind that a bill from 2016 affects Paid Family Leave (PFL) and State Disability Insurance (SDI) benefits starting on January 1, 2018. This bill, AB 908, increases the amount of PFL or SDI benefits an employee can receive to either 60 percent or 70 percent of earnings, depending on the employee’s income. There will still be a maximum weekly benefit limit on the amount received.
AB 908 also removes the current seven-day waiting period that exists before an employee is eligible to receive PFL benefits (it is not removed from SDI).
Employees who are eligible for leave under the New Parent Leave Act will be able to apply for PFL wage replacement benefits.
Under AB 1695, domestic service employers will no longer be allowed to file wage reports by telephone.
Also remember that a law from 2015 requires employers to electronically submit all employment tax returns, wage reports and payroll tax deposits to the Employment Development Department (EDD). The requirement became effective on January 1, 2017, for employers with 10 or more employees. Beginning January 1, 2018, all employers will be required to electronically file and pay.
As always, employers with questions about new and existing employment laws should seek the advice of legal counsel. The Oxnard Chamber strives to keep its members informed about new laws that could affect their business operations.