Assembly Passes New Leave Mandate

(May 31, 2012) A California Chamber of Commerce-opposed “job killer” bill that burdens employers with a California mandated benefit different from federal law passed the Assembly yesterday.

AB 2039 (Swanson; D-Alameda) significantly expands the type of individuals or circumstances under which employees can take a 12-week, protected leave of absence under California’s Family Rights Act (CFRA), as well as creates an even further disconnect with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

During the debate on the Assembly Floor, several legislators spoke in opposition to the AB 2039 explaining that California already has an extensive list of protected leaves of absences available to employees for a wide range of personal needs. Legislators cited a recent survey which found yet again that California is widely known and/or perceived as an unfriendly business state due, in part, to its onerous labor and employment regulations.

Members also stressed that although such leaves do not address every potential personal situation that may arise, this does not mean that additional, statutory protected leaves of absences are necessary in California.
Current Law

Currently, CFRA requires an employer with 50 or more employees to allow an employee who has worked at least 1,250 hours to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for his/her own serious medical condition, for the birth or placement of a child, or to care for the serious medical condition of a child, (under 18 years of age or adult dependent), spouse, or parent.

The current definition of “parent” includes step-parents as well as individuals who stand in place of a parent, “in loco parentis,” to the child.

AB 2039 seeks to expand CFRA by allowing an employee a protected leave to care for adult children, parents-in-law, grandparents and siblings. The initial intent of CFRA was to provide a balance between an individual’s work life and personal life. This proposed change, however, would disrupt that balance and have a negative impact on California employers.
Substantial Burden on Employers

Expanding the types of individuals or circumstances under which an employee can take a leave of absence under CFRA, through AB 2039, would only further increase the cost of doing business for employers in California.

Given that the individuals proposed by AB 2039 are not covered by the FMLA, an employee could use his/her 12 weeks of CFRA to care for the serious medical condition of a parent-in-law, then take another 12-week leave under FMLA to care for the medical condition for his/her spouse, child or parent.

This significant expansion of leave for employees would create such a substantial burden on employers that it would discourage employers from growing to more than 50 employees in order to avoid triggering CFRA/FMLA or from locating to this state. California cannot afford to impede growth and overburden employers with such a requirement.
Leave Already Protected

The new burden that AB 2039 creates is unnecessary. The proposed category of individuals that AB 2039 seeks to include under the protections of CFRA are generally already protected. A grandparent or step-parent who stands in loco parentis to a child, can already take a protected leave of absence under CFRA to care for that child, and vice versa. There is no need to create another exception for the parent-in-law, daughter in-law, or son-in law to also be able to take leave.
Key Vote

AB 2039 passed the Assembly on May 30 on a vote of 52-26.

Ayes: Alejo (D-Watsonville), Allen (D-Santa Rosa), Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Atkins (D-South Park/Golden Hill), Beall (D-San Jose), Block (D-San Diego), Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley), Bonilla (D-Concord),  Bradford (D-Gardena), Brownley (D-Santa Monica), Buchanan (D-Alamo), Butler (D-Los Angeles),  C. Calderon (D-Montebello), Campos (D-San Jose), Carter (D-Rialto), Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), Chesbro (D-North Coast),  Davis (D-Los Angeles), Dickinson (D-Sacramento), Eng (D-Monterey Park), Feuer (D-Los Angeles), Fong (D-Cupertino), Fuentes (D-Sylmar), Furutani ( D-South Los Angeles County), Galgiani (D-Livingston), Gatto (D-Los Angeles), Gordon (D-Menlo Park), Hall (D-Los Angeles), Hayashi (D-Hayward), R. Hernández (D-West Covina), Hill (D-San Mateo), Huber (D-El Dorado Hils), Hueso (D-San Diego), Huffman (D-San Rafael), Lara (D-Los Angeles), B. Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Ma (D-San Francisco), Mendoza (D-Artesia), Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Monning (D-Carmel), Pan (D-Sacramento), Perea (D-Fresno), John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) M. Pérez (D-Coachella), Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), Skinner (D-Berkeley), Solorio (D-Anaheim), Swanson (D-Concord), Torres (D-Pomona) ,Wieckowski (D-Fremont), Williams (D-Santa Barbara), Yamada (D-Davis).

Noes: Noes: Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo), B. Berryhill (R-Ceres), Conway (R-Tulare), Cook (R-Yucca Valley),  Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), B. Gaines (R-Roseville), Garrick (R-Carlsbad), Gorell (R-Camarillo), Grove (R-Bakersfield), Hagman (R-Chino Hills), Halderman (R-Fresno), Harkey (R-Dana Point), Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore), Jones (R-Santee), Knight (R-Antelope Valley), Logue (R-Linda), Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), Miller (R-Corona), Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Nestande (R-Palm Desert), Nielsen (R-Gerber), Norby (R-Fullerton), Olsen (R-Modesto), Silva (R-Huntington Beach), Smyth (R-Santa Clarita), Wagner (R-Irvine).

Absent, Abstaining, Not Voting: Fletcher (I-San Diego), Valadao (R-Hanford).