California passes paid family leave

On Sept. 23, 2002, the state of California passed the nation’s first comprehensive paid family leave law. The new law will provide six weeks of paid leave to workers who take time off to care for a new child or seriously ill family member.

"Right now, our nation’s policies are badly out of synch with the needs of working families," says Judith L. Lichtman, president of the Washington, DC-based National Partnership for Women & Families. "But America is much closer to becoming a nation in which no worker has to choose between a paycheck and caring for a family member who faces a medical emergency."

The new law will give Californians partial pay when they take leave to care for a seriously ill family member or a new baby. It provides six weeks
of partial pay to workers who take family leave, funded through the State Disability Insurance program. The program will be funded entirely by employees; employers will contribute nothing. The average employee payment will be less than three dollars per month. The law will become operative on Jan. 1, 2004, and benefits will be payable for leave that begins on or after July 1, 2004.

For more information, contact the National Partnership for Women & Families, 1875 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 710, Washington, DC 20009. Telephone: (202) 986-2600. Fax: (202) 986-2539.