by Sayema Hameed
On September 24, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brow signed into law Senate Bill 770 to expand California’s Paid Family Leave program by allowing workers to receive benefits while caring for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and in-laws.
According to State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who sponsored SB 770, the expanded Paid Family Leave program “will now more accurately reflect the broader range of caregiving responsibilities that families have in our state.” Acknowledging the realities of modern day families and caregivers, Senator Jackson went on to state: “This will put families on a stronger footing by preventing workers from having to make the terrible choice between putting food on their table and caring for a seriously ill grandparent.” (Source: Press Release: Governor Signs Jackson Bill to Strengthen Paid Family Leave Program)
In 2002, California became the first state in the nation to enact a comprehensive Paid Family Leave program to provide partial pay to workers taking time off to care for seriously ill family members or to bond with a new child. Funded entirely by employee payroll deductions through an expansion of the State Disability Insurance (SDI) system, Paid Family Leave provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement benefits per year.
Current law only covers leave to care for a seriously ill parent, child, spouse, or registered domestic partner. At no additional cost, SB 770 expands the definition of family to include a seriously ill sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or parent-in-law.
The law will take effect on July 1, 2014.
For an overview of California’s Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) programs, including links to apply for DI and PFL benefits, see An Overview of California’s Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) Programs.