Governor Brown signed another new law last week that will go into effect on January 1, 2018, and will affect thousands of smaller businesses in California. The new law, Senate Bill 63, amends the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and mandates that businesses with 20 or more employees provide 12 weeks of baby bonding leave to employees. This new law will likely significanlty affect thousands of businesses in the state, many of which have not been familiar with the requirements of CFRA previously.
Essentially, the new amendments make the same baby bonding leave requirements that already applied to employers with 50 or more employees equally applicable to employers with 20 or more employees. Specifically, employers with 50 or more employees were already required to provide both male and female employees up to 12 weeks of leave to bond with a newborn baby, newly adopted or foster child, as long as 50 or more employees work within the same 75-mile radius and the employee has been employed for at least one year and worked at least 1,250 hours by the time the leave is taken. Those same requirements still apply, except there need be only 20 employees working for the same employer within a 75-mile radius for the new law to apply. The baby bonding leave does not need to be taken in consecutive weeks, but must be taken within 12 months of the child's birth (or adoption or placement in foster care).
If an employee qualifies for such leave and requests it, the employer must not deny it or retaliate against the employee for taking it. Employers with more than 20 employees should review their policies now and train managers on how to deal with leave requests.