The ink was barely dry on State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s parental-leave job protection bill — SB 1166 — before the California Chamber of Commerce gave it the sobriquet “Job Killer.” Jackson’s new legislation would extend the state’s existing protected-leave law for new parents — within 12 months of birth or adoption — to smaller private companies of 5-50 employees. Companies with more than 50 workers are already required to allow 12 weeks of unpaid time off. Jackson introduced SB 1166 because many California workers, who might otherwise take advantage of the time off to tend to their newborn, do not for fear of losing their jobs.
Jackson cosponsored a related bill — AB 908 — signed into law this week by Governor Jerry Brown, that sought to address another reason employees of larger private companies don’t take advantage of California’s 10-year-old parental-leave law: money. (In addition, many California workers remain in the dark that any paid parental-leave protections exist.) Under AB 908, low-wage workers will be entitled to receive a relatively greater percentage of their take-home pay than those earning more. Private employees statewide — not their employers — generate the revenues needed to make these payments via disability deductions taken from their paychecks every two weeks. Jackson reckons 40 percent of the state’s private workforce lacks the necessary job protection to avail themselves of such payments. Her bill goes before the Senate Labor Committee this week.
Last year, Jackson pushed a similar bill, providing job protection for employees taking time off to tend to a sick and ailing relative. Although the legislature passed that bill, Gov. Brown vetoed it.