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Baby Bonding Leave
For both women and men, having a newborn child is one of the biggest events in their lives. The chance to bond with a new child in the first few months of life is an irreplaceable treasure. Historically for women, taking an extended period of time off from work to bond with a new child (anything beyond a short maternity leave) has come with the risk of the woman likely losing her job. As for men, society made no provision for men to take time off from work for the arrival of a new child.Why Is Baby Bonding Leave Important?
Enabling employees to take time off from work to be with their newborn child has significant benefits. Baby bonding leave (also known as parental leave) promotes better child/parent relationships and family dynamics. Baby bonding leave also promotes better developmental outcomes for the child. Baby bonding leave is particularly valuable to fathers, who are not eligible for maternity leave. Taking hands-on involvement with a newborn (feeding, getting up at night when the child wakes, changing diapers, etc.) while on baby bonding leave can establish a pattern of engagement that will persist long after the leave has ended.
There has always been a tension for workers between their roles as employees and as parents. Prioritizing work over families has often resulted in adverse consequences for the worker. The availability of baby bonding leave is one means of helping workers achieve their professional goals while also being supportive, nurturing parents and relationship partners.Baby Bonding Leave in California
Fortunately, California, recognizing the need for, and identifying the traditional dearth of, baby bonding leave, has gradually implemented leave laws to address this concern. Below is a description of some of the forms of leave available to California workers for the purpose of baby bonding.California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law
California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDLL”), under California Government Code section 12945(a), enables women disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition to take a leave of absence from work for a reasonable period of time not to exceed four months. In part, this serves as a source of baby bonding leave. In addition to PDLL, other sources of baby bonding leave are described in the sections below.California Paid Family Leave for Baby Bonding
California Paid Family Leave benefit payments (which are paid through mandatory payroll deductions) are intended for workers who need to take time off from work for a number of reasons, including bonding with a new child. California Unemployment Insurance Code section 3300, et seq.How Long Can A Worker Receive California Paid Family Leave Benefits?
Eligible workers can receive benefit payments for up to eight weeks.How Much Are California Paid Family Leave Benefits?
- The amount of the benefit payments are about 60 to 70 percent of the worker’s usual weekly earnings during the period of 5 to 18 months before the claim start date. The base period is 12 months, encompassing four consecutive quarters, and includes wages subject to State Disability Insurance deductions that were paid approximately 5 to 18 months before the family leave claim began. Therefore, the base period does not include wages paid at the time or immediately before the family leave began. The Weekly Benefit Amount is determined by using the quarter during the base period when the worker earned the most.
- As of March 2022, if the highest quarterly earnings were less than $929, the Weekly Benefit Amount was $50. (Note: this amount is subject to change.)
- As of March 2022, if the highest quarterly earnings were between $929 and $6,803.34, the Weekly Benefit Amount was approximately 70 percent of the worker’s earnings. (Note: this amount is subject to change.)
- As of March 2022, if the highest quarterly earnings were more than $6,803.34, the Weekly Benefit Amount was approximately 60 percent of the worker’s earnings. (Note: this amount is subject to change.)
- The worker must be unable to do his or her regular or customary work due to the need to bond with a new child.
- The worker must have been employed or actively looking for work at the time the family leave began.
- The worker must have earned at least $300 from which State Disability Insurance deductions were withheld during the base period.
- The worker must through birth, or adoption or foster care placement have a new child in the family in the past 12 months.
The worker must complete and submit a claim form no earlier than the day the family leave began, and no later than 41 days after the family leave began. If the worker does not file a claim within that period, the worker may lose eligibility to receive benefits.How to File a Claim for California Paid Family Leave Benefits?
A worker can file a claim online with the State of California Employment Development Department for California Paid Family Leave benefits. You will need to provide:
- Mothers without a prior pregnancy-related disability claim, new fathers, and foster or adoptive parents (limited to children under the age of 18) need to provide proof of relationship for your bonding claim.
- Your first and last name,
- Your Social Security Number.
- Your driver license number.
- Your current employer’s business name, mailing address, and telephone number.
You must register an account with the state agency and then submit a claim.Is a Worker’s Job Protected While on California Paid Family Leave?
While California Paid Family Leave only pays benefits and does not protect you from being fired while on leave, other laws such as the California Family Rights Act (unpaid leave an employer must provide upon notice from an eligible worker) may protect your job. Therefore, if you qualify for both California Paid Family Leave and California Family Rights Act leave, applying for both benefits so that they run concurrently can provide a measure of job protection.The Voluntary or Private Plan Option for California Paid Family Leave Benefits
Employers may elect to use a voluntary (private) plan instead of the plan operated by the State of California Employment Development Department.
- The voluntary program must provide all the benefits provided by the state plan and provide at least one benefit that is better than the state plan.
- The voluntary program cannot cost workers more than the state plan.
- Employers must formally apply for voluntary plan approval with the Employment Development Department before implementing the plan.
If the voluntary plan denies leave benefits and the worker disagrees, the worker can appeal the decision and the matter will be heard before an impartial administrative law judge.California Family Rights Act for Baby Bonding
Under the California Family Rights Act, all private-sector employers with 5 or more employees within the state of California must provide their workers who have more than 12 months of service and 1,250 hours worked for the employer in the previous 12-month period with unpaid leave of up to 12 workweeks in any 12-month period for reasons that include:
- Bonding with a newborn, adopted child, or child placed for foster care.
Workers generally have a right to reinstatement to the same or a comparable job position upon their return from California Family Rights Act leave.Contact Us
If your employer has fired you while you were on, or refused to provide you with, baby bonding leave, or if your employer or former employer has failed to pay you Minimum Wage for all hours worked, because of rounding or off-the-clock work practices or policies, or has failed to pay you correctly for Overtime work, or has subjected you to Discrimination or Retaliation prohibited by FEHA or other unlawful conduct, call the experienced employment attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC or Contact Us via our online form.