California PFL and SF PPLO Expand to Eight Weeks on July 1
By Karen Hooper | Published June 3, 2020
Californias current six-week maximum period of paid family leave (PFL) for new child bonding or to care for a seriously ill family member increases to eight weeks as of July 1, 2020.
The change derives from Governor Newsom's first budget signed into law last summer. The PFL expansion was a component of the bills parents agenda which, among other items, expands PFL from six to eight weeks for each parent or caretaker of a newborn child effective for claims made on or after July 1, 2020. In the context of new child bonding, this has been marketed by the state as allowing a total of four months PFL per family (two months for each parent).
The bill also created a task force that is developing a proposal to increase PFL to 12 weeks for each parent or caretaker (for a total of six months per family), increase the wage replacement to 75% or 90% (from its current 60% or 70%) depending on earnings, and include job protection (which is not currently a component of PFL) for all workers.
Originally, the goal was to increase PFL to 12 weeks in the 2021-2022 budget. However, given that Governor Newsom's recently proposed budget has already cut much of his initial parents agenda items due to pandemic-related budget constraints, it is not clear if that timeframe remains on track.
An extensive summary of the May revision to the proposed budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year states that it continues to include the expansion of job protections for any worker eligible for paid family leave (PFL) benefits and resources to support small businesses that extend to their employees.
As a reminder, PFL is also available for employees who are unable to work because they are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19. PFL eligibility requires employees to submit medical documentation from the family members treating physician or practitioner (or an individualized written order from a health officer) to be eligible.
Timing is Everything
Employees who take Paid Family Leave prior to July 1, 2020 are only eligible for six weeks of leave, even if the leave extends into July. Leave must start on or after July 1, 2020 in order for an individual to receive eight weeks of Paid Family Leave.
The EDD PFL FAQ section provides a number of useful timing examples in this context, including:
Birth Date Not Determinative: A newborns date of birth does not determine whether employees are eligible for up to eight weeks of benefits it is based exclusively on the claim start date. For example, an employee with a child born earlier in the year could delay requesting PFL until July 1 to be eligible for eight weeks of benefits.
Transition from SDI to PFL: New birth mothers are eligible for SDI during their period of disability prior to moving to PFL for new child bonding. New birth mothers from earlier in the year can wait until July 1 to start PFL to be eligible for eight weeks of benefits.
PFL Claims Filed Prior to July 1: Any PFL bonding or care claim filed before July 1, 2020 will be eligible for only six weeks of benefits.
San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO)
The PPLO requires that employers provide supplemental compensation for employees who are receiving Paid Family Leave benefits for bonding with a new child.
A Covered Employee is an employee who:
Was employed with the employer at least 180 days prior to the start of the leave
Performs at least eight hours of work per week in San Francisco, with at least 40% of total weekly hours worked in San Francisco
Is eligible to receive California Paid Family Leave for the purposes of bonding with a new child.
For more information on the Paid Parental Leave Ordinance, see our Newfront San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO) Guide.
With the July 1 expansion of Paid Family Leave, Covered Employees who work in San Francisco will qualify for up to eight weeks of PPLO supplemental compensation for leaves taken on or after July 1, 2020.
The Board of Supervisors also amended the PPLO in April to confirm that employers with a program to provide at least six weeks of full pay (as an alternative to providing supplemental pay to top-up PFL payments) must now increase the arrangement to eight weeks of full pay as of July 1 to satisfy the PPLO requirements. That amount will now automatically increase in the future to match any further extensions to PFL.
The Paid Family Leave wage replacement rate is 60%-70% of weekly wages subject to a 2020 maximum benefit of $1,300. PPLO requires employers to pay the difference between Paid Family Leave and 100% of the employees gross weekly wages. The maximum benefit is based off the PFL annual salary cap of $122,909 in 2020 and a benefit cap of $2,167 per week.
VP, Senior Compliance Manager
Karen Hooper, CEBS, CMS, Fellow, is a Vice President and Senior Compliance Manager working closely with the Lead Benefit Counsel in Newfront's Employee Benefits division. She works closely with internal staff and clients regarding compliance issues, providing information, education and training.