San Francisco recently became the first city in the U.S. to guarantee fully paid family leave for workers who add new children to the family. The new law requires employers with at least 20 workers to pay employees with new children 45 percent of their salaries for six weeks. The new law will begin to take effect in 2017. The other 55 percent of the workers’ salaries are covered by California’s family leave program, which was established in 2004.
Currently, only 13 percent of employees in the U.S. get access to paid family leave from work after the birth or adoption of a baby. Only four states in the country (California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) provide some type of paid family leave for workers with new children. Under the new law, if employers refuse to pay the leave, employees can file complaints with San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, and can ultimately take their case to court.
Small business owners raised concerns about being able to afford the costs of paid parental leave. It was suggested that the new law be phased in more slowly, so that it only applied to employers with 50 or more employees starting in 2017, and gradually apply to employers with more than 20 workers in 2018. Another city supervisor proposed that employee must have worked at least 180 days, rather than just 90 days, to qualify for the benefit.
After the ordinance was amended with those changes, the board unanimously approved it. It will apply to all employed parents with new children, whether biological or adopted. However, it will require a second reading before final approval.
Although this law will help San Francisco parents with new children, most parents in the U.S. are not given paid leave. There are some laws in place, however, to help new parents keep their jobs after the birth or adoption of a child. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees of covered employers are allowed to take up to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12 month period after the birth or adoption of a child, or after the placement with the employee of a child for foster care. California has a similar law called the California Family Rights Act.
In order to receive that leave under federal law, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 13 months and a minimum of 1,250 hours over the last 12 months. Employees must also work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Sick leave and vacation time can be used in place of unpaid leave in most cases.
It’s unfortunate, but many employers refuse to give employees the leave to which they are entitled after the birth or adoption of a child. It is also common for an employer to refuse to hire a pregnant woman, because the employer does not want to provide leave, which soon must be paid in San Francisco. In some cases, employers will even go so far as to refuse to hire women who they believe may get pregnant soon after being hired.
Under federal and state law, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee or a potential employee because she is pregnant or may become pregnant. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe that employers who refuse to provide parents with the leave to which they are entitled should be held accountable. If you are in the Oakland-San Francisco area and you have had your legal rights violated, call the Oakland pregnancy discrimination attorneys at Liberty Law at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000.