The California New Parent Leave Act

The California New Parent Leave Act guarantees time off of work for certain employees who have just had a child. The law is new to California and became effective on January 1, 2018.

Both mothers and fathers are eligible for time off of work after:

  • a biological child is born;
  • a child is adopted; or
  • a child is placed with the parents for fostering.

Employers Affected

The New Parent Leave Act applies to:

  • employers with 20 or more employees; and
  • the State and any political or civil subdivision of the State and cities, regardless of the number of employees.

Employee Eligibility

An employee is eligible for leave if the employee:

  • worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months;
  • worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months before taking parental leave; and
  • works at a worksite that has at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Employees are not eligible if they are covered under both the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

Employee Rights

Eligible employees are guaranteed:

  • up to 12 weeks of job-protected parental leave;
  • full health plan coverage during leave; and
  • employment upon the employee's return to the same or a comparable position.

Below, our California employment and labor lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about the New Parent Leave Act for California employees:

Baby
The California New Parent Leave Act grants mothers and fathers the right to 12 weeks of leave after a new child enters the family.

1. Am I eligible for rights under the New Parent Leave Act?

Employees, both mothers and fathers, are eligible for time off from work if they:

  • worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months;
  • worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months before taking parental leave; and
  • works at a work site that has at least 20 employees within a 75-mile radius. 1

Employee leave under this specific act is only available to employees not covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). If both of those acts apply, the employee's rights are governed by those two laws.

Also note that California law provides leave rights to parents to participate in K through 12 school activities.

1.1 Is my employer covered under the Act?

Not only does the employee have to be eligible, but the employer must be "covered" under the law. An employer is subject to the New Parent Leave Act if:

  • the employer has between 20 or more employees; or
  • the employer is the State or any political or civil subdivision of the State and cities, regardless of the number of employees. 2

Whether or not the employer is covered is important because those who work for employers not covered are not entitled to parental leave under the Act. It must be at the same level and with the same coverage as if the employee continued to work.

2. What are my rights under the New Parent Leave Act?

Under the act, eligible employees are guaranteed:

  • up to 12 weeks of job protected parental leave;
  • health plan coverage during leave; and
  • employment upon the employee's return to the same or a comparable position. 3

Health plan coverage will be maintained during the entire time the employee is off of work to protect the health of the parent and child.

2.1 What if both parents work for the same employer?

If both parents work for the same employer, they both may take leave but the employer is not required to allow more than 12 weeks total of leave for them both.

You may, however, qualify for family leave under either the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

2.2 What if I don't get my old job back?

There are times when the old job is no longer available upon your return to work. If that is the case, the new position must be comparable, meaning it:

  • provides the same hourly rate or salary;
  • provides the same benefits;
  • requires similar or identical duties;
  • requires similar experience and education;
  • does not involve any kind of "demotion".

3. Can I get paid during my time off?

Employees are not entitled to payment during parental leave, but are able to use accrued time, like:

Employers are not allowed to:

  • prevent employees from using accrued paid leave, or
  • require employees to use their paid leave.

This protects the rights of employees while they care for their families.

4. Can my employer punish me for taking parental leave?

No. It is illegal for an employer to deny or interfere with an employee's right under the act. This includes:

If an employer violates the law, it can be held liable for its action and the damages caused to you.

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Call us for help...

For questions about workplace leave laws in California or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled California employment attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at the Shouse Law Group.

We have local law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.


Legal References:

  1. Cal. Gov. Code § 12945.6(a)(1).
  2. Cal. Gov. Code § 12945.6(i).
  3. Cal. Gov. Code § 12945.6(a)(2).
  4. Cal. Gov. Code § 12945.6(g).

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