A Double-Dip Of Paid Parental Leave, Anyone?
On April 5, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to guarantee new parents time off that is fully paid to provide care for their new child. While the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) has long required that employers with 50 or more employees provide 12 weeks of parental leave for eligible employees who are new parents, paid leave is not required. The State of California provides partially paid parental leave, 55%, for 6 weeks, and this benefit is funded by mandatory tax contributions to the state’s disability insurance program. The new ordinance in San Francisco requires the employer to pay the balance of the employee’s pay so that new parents receive 100% of their regular wages during those 6 weeks. Parents can double-dip with both simultaneously enjoying fully paid leave. Unlike the state law, the local law gives employees who take such leave the right to return to their old jobs at the end of the six weeks. The law will apply to employers of 50 or more employees effective January 1, 2017, and employers of 20 or more employees effective July 1, 2017.
Improvement of benefits for parents and families is just another part of the nationwide effort against income inequality. Just a day before the San Francisco ordinance was passed, New York’s governor signed a bill to provide private sector employees 12 weeks of paid family leave, making it the sixth state to pass paid parental leave legislation, joining California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, and several cities.
While Florida does not have a state law mandating employers to offer parental leave (except that state career service employees are entitled to up to 6 months of unpaid parental leave), employers that are governed by the FMLA must: (1) provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave to qualified employees, (2) restore them to their same position when they return to work, and (3) maintain group health insurance coverage, including family coverage, for an employee on FMLA leave on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work. And, employers who are not covered by the FMLA must carefully navigate the Americans with Disabilities, Title VII, the Florida Civil Rights Act, and local laws which have requirements governing leave for pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions. Enforcing the rights of pregnant women in favor of allowing leave is currently a top governmental priority.