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Paid Family Leave goes into effect in California

A statewide coalition of organizations (including FCA) held a well-attended press conference last summer in Sacramento to launch California’s Paid Family Leave program, the first such law in the country. The new legislation, sponsored by State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, has attracted widespread attention throughout the US. Several other states are now contemplating similar measures.

Caregivers who need time off work to care for loved ones are included in the program. EDD (California Employment Development Department) processes applications and checks. Although applicants initially re-ported some roadblocks when trying to obtain information and payment, EDD assures us that the problems have largely been smoothed out. 

Q & A on California’s Paid Family Leave

Q. What is Paid Family Leave?
A. Paid Family Leave is unemployment compensation disability insurance paid to workers who suffer a wage loss when they take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child.

Q. How long may a person receive Paid Family Leave insurance benefits?
A. Workers can receive up to six weeks of benefits that may be paid over a 12-month period.

Q. What is the relationship of Paid Family Leave Insurance to State Disability Insurance?
A. Paid Family Leave Insurance is a component of the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program. The SDI benefit portion compensates workers who suffer a wage loss when they can’t work because of their own illness or injury. The Paid Family Leave benefit compensates workers who suffer a wage loss due to the need to provide care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child.

Q. Are payroll deductions mandatory?
A. Yes, beginning January 1, 2004, employers were required to deduct the Paid Family Leave contributions from the wages of employees who are covered by the SDI program.

Q. Who pays?
A. The Paid Family Leave insurance program is fully funded by employees’ contributions, similar to the SDI program.     

Q. When do Paid Family Leave benefit payments begin?
A. Benefits are payable for Paid Family Leave insurance claims commencing on or after July 1, 2004. In other words, benefits will not be paid for leave taken prior to July 1, 2004. Employees receive partial salary payments for up to six weeks of approved leave. The six weeks do not need to be taken together.

Q. How do I get an application?
A. Request one  from EDD (Employment Development Department). Call (877)-BE-THERE (English), (877) 379-3819 (Spanish) or (800) 563-2442 (TTY), or visit www.edd.ca.gov for further information.