California Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Paid Family Leave Program Benefiting More than One Million Families

California Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Paid Family Leave Program Benefiting More than One Million Families
July 1, 2014

On July 1, 2004, California became the first state in the nation to provide partial pay to workers taking time off to care for seriously ill family members or to bond with new children.  Now our state is again leading the nation by expanding access to this protection.

We are celebrating with a press event in Sacramento featuring LAS-ELC’s Sharon Terman along with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, other elected officials and labor leaders, and our colleagues from the California Work & Family Coalition and the California Labor Federation. We are also taking this opportunity to call for passage of the recently introduced national FAMILY Act, which is modeled on California’s program and would extend paid family leave to workers throughout the country.

Funded entirely by employee payroll deductions, PFL provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement benefits per year. The law has helped countless families around the state to care for their loved ones without jeopardizing their economic security.

However, before today, PFL only covered leave to care for a parent, child, spouse, or registered domestic partner. That left many workers unable to care for those closest to them, and was not reflective of the diversity of California’s families.

Thanks to SB 770, a bill authored by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) which goes into effect today, California workers will now be able to receive Paid Family Leave benefits while caring for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and parents-in-law.

Sally, a 74-year old woman and longtime employee of a large retail store, needed to care for her twin sister who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But she could not receive Paid Family Leave because siblings were not recognized under the law.

Sally told us that, “My sister is widowed and our parents are deceased. Her only child lives out of state and is unable to help with her care. My sister has lived with me for 15 years and I want her to have the dignity of dying at home. It’s hard to go to work every day when I’m worrying about her alone at home.”

Now, workers like Sally will no longer have to make the impossible choice between their paycheck and caring for their family.

Over a decade ago, LAS-ELC was a proud member of the coalition that helped to pass PFL, and since that time we’ve heard from thousands of workers about their need for PFL to care for their families. We are thrilled to celebrate this anniversary of a major victory for working families and we look forward to continuing to advocate for expanding access to this critical right.