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California Workers Can Now Take Leave To Care For Chosen Family

A white man in a wheelchair wearing a mask sits across from a white man sitting in a chair wearing multiple masks.
California workers can now take paid sick days and unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a child, family member or person considered to be family.
(Mario Tama
/
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A California law that took effect Jan. 1 expands the type of people that workers can use sick time and family leave to care for when needed. The new law adds the option to take leave to care for a “designated person.” Under the new legislation, that person can be a blood relative or someone else the employee considers like family.

What the law already allowed

California workers can take paid sick days and up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a child or sick immediate family member with a few exceptions. The two pieces of underlying legislation are the California Family Rights Act and the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014.

Why the change matters

Assembly Bill 1041's authors point out that the LGBTQ+ community often relies on support from people outside their biological families. The number of multigenerational households is also on the rise.

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“We know it's extremely important, because the definition of family just in general is expanding,” said Sela Steiger, a staff attorney with the nonprofit Legal Aid at Work. “Chosen family is increasingly important for all types of people.”

Did anyone oppose these changes?

Yes. Employer organizations and the California Chamber of Commerce said the existing law was “already challenging, confusing, and burdensome,” especially to small employers struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

"[This bill], provides no definition of who qualifies, leaving it up to the employee to self-identify — which means essentially anyone could qualify,” the California Chamber of Commerce said.

Coming in 2025

Lower-income workers will be eligible to receive up to 90% of their income while taking paid leave to care for a new child or sick family member. The current wage replacement rate is 60-70%.

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