California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a bill that will boost the pay workers are eligible to receive when they take time off to bond with a new baby or to care for a sick loved one.
Workers who take family medical leave are eligible to receive 55 percent of lost wages for up to six weeks. Under the bill, that amount will increase to 60 percent of prior wages for higher paid workers, and up to 70 percent for those at the lower end of the pay scale.
As it was previously, the program will be funded by employee payroll deductions.
The new Paid Family Leave Program is scheduled to go into effect in 2018, and it did not draw opposition from business groups, according to reports.
Assembly member Jimmy Gomez authored the bill in part because minimum wage workers were not taking advantage of the paid leave program, since they could not afford to lose nearly half of their pay for the time they were on leave.
“For many workers, California’s current Paid Family Leave Program is simply an illusion,” Gomez said in a statement. “It is unrealistic to expect a worker who is already living paycheck to paycheck on 100 percent of their salary to use a program for six weeks at nearly half of their wages. That’s why I authored AB 908, to fix this inequity and ensure all who pay into this vital program can afford to use it, regardless of their income.”
The move comes one week after Brown also signed legislation that will phase in an increase of California’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022.
Benefits like family medical leave have also increasingly become the focus of legislation at the state and local level.
Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also signed a bill that both raised the minimum wage and provided up to 12 weeks of employee-funded family leave benefits for workers across the state.