The issue of expanding the population of employers that must provide paid, protected family leave has been a top priority of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. While certainly well-intentioned, smaller restaurants remain concerned about layering this mandate on top of other newly enacted mandates. Many of those businesses already accommodate for parental leave without a new state law. Additionally, the lawsuit traps in these leave policy mandates are substantial.
SB 654 requires employers with 20 to 49 employees and within a 75-mile radius to provide up to six weeks of parental leave for a new child, adoption or foster care placement. The previous version (that was contained in the defeated SB 1166) applied to employers with 10 or more employees and required the provision of 12 weeks of protected leave of absence for a new child, adoption or foster child placement. So, while the policy idea was revived, it was also in a more narrowed fashion; and therefore, garnering more support from lawmakers.
The California Restaurant Association along with many business and government groups forced the bill to be narrowed. The continued opposition to SB 654 was based on the many significant concerns raised by smaller restaurants with particular attention to the costs, the logistical challenges of having more than one person out on the same leave and the employer not being able to influence timing and the relative ease in which a lawsuit can be filed against an employer.
Once the proposal was narrowed, it was approved and sent to Governor Jerry Brown for consideration where the CRA advocacy team will be raising these issues and others.