Paid Family Leave bill receives mixed reactions

KC Longley, Staff Writer



Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on April 11 that is going to extend the compensation that Californians will receive during Paid Family Leave (PFL). Of course, there are reactions fitting to either side of the spectrum, which is expected for any kind of political decision.
In order to understand what this new signing does, some background on the previous bill is necessary. According to the PFL website, the bill is explained as an employee being compensated for missing work as long as they are caring for an ill family member or bonding with a new child.
Tending to a family member who is sick includes parents, children, a spouse or a registered domestic partner. Just in 2014, this was also extended to parents-in-law, grandchildren, grandparents and siblings. Also, time off to bond with a new child includes adopted or foster children as well as newborn biological children.
One important thing to point out is that in order to qualify for this paid family leave, the employee in question has to request an application from the California Employment Development Department. Also, it is the workers who contribute to the California State Disability Insurance fund who are permitted to receive the 6 weeks of partial pay when taking time off under the PFL.
Initially, workers would receive 55 percent of their wages during their time off under PFL. Now, after the new signing, Brown has increased this number to 70 percent for those receiving minimum wage, and 60 percent for those with higher pay.
Some have responded to this unhappily, claiming that it is more or less discriminatory. That due to aspects such as the child bearing, it could be more targeted towards women needing time off. However, each parent of a child has the ability to take time off with PFL, and parents even have the option of taking this time off simultaneously, although that is not required.
Some are also angered by the raises in percentage, claiming more raises in taxing is not necessary, especially so soon after the passing of the new $15 minimum wage. However, the new improvements, according to the Los Angeles Times, will be covered by increasing the amount only workers who wish to make use of PFL must pay into the SDI fund.
This bill was already on the side of those who do not have the means required in order to leave work for lengthy amounts of time. For those who have a hard time making ends meet on a weekly basis, and already use most, if not all, of their paychecks in order to keep a family fed and the bills paid, this law provides benefits most states don’t have.
As of now, the only states to actually use a form of compensation during leave are California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington. To put it into perspective, according to the U.S. Census, only about 57 million of the approximate 323,396,580 million people in the country have the ability to take advantage of PFL. That in itself is extremely discomforting, as there are people entering and leaving this world nearly every 10 seconds, and a mass majority of these families already struggle financially without compensation of some kind.
Life is unpredictable. We never know what will happen in the future, whether these things will concern our own well-being or that of our loved ones. It is definitely comforting to know that as human beings, we have this level of security in the form of PFL.