As California employers continue to grapple with recent legislation effective January 1, California Governor Gavin Newsom is releasing his plans for even more employment legislation. Along with the Governor’s proposed budget, the Governor has announced various “trailer bills.”  Trailer bills are measures that accompany the annual state budget that theoretically are necessary to implement the budget. Yet they can also be an easy way for the Governor to get difficult legislation passed, as the trailer bills only require a simple majority to pass.

California already has several types of job-protected leaves of absence for employees. Even so, most job-protected leaves are limited depending on the size of the employer. For example, California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDLL”) applies to employers with five or more employees and requires these employers to provide up to four months of unpaid job-protected leave because of pregnancy-related illness.

Another is the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) which is California’s version of the federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). CFRA provides up to 12 weeks off in a year for either the birth/placement of a child or due to an employee’s or an employee’s family member’s serious health condition. Before 2018, CFRA, including provisions related to the birth/placement of a child, pertained only to employers of 50 or more employees. However, in 2017, the California legislature passed the New Parent Leave Act, which expanded baby bonding portions of CFRA to employees of employers of 20 or more employees. Job-protected leave under CFRA for a serious medical condition continues to apply only to employees of 50 or more employees.

One of the Governor’s new trailer bills seeks to repeal the New Parent Leave Act. This is not a nod to the struggles of smaller businesses with compliance. Instead, the trailer bill seeks to amend CFRA and PDLL to apply to all employers, regardless of size. This would be a drastic expansion to job-protected leaves in California.

It is difficult to predict how the trailer bill amending CFRA and PDLL will progress during the coming months as it winds through the legislature. Should the bill be passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, it would go into effect immediately upon signing and mean huge expenses for small businesses.

Jackson Lewis will continue to track changes with the legislation. If employers are not sure they are currently in compliance or want to plan for the potential future, they should contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to talk about their leave policies and procedures.

Photo of Susan E. Groff Susan E. Groff

Susan E. Groff is a Principal in the Los Angeles, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She advises and counsels management on various employment related issues and is Co-Leader of the California Advice and Counsel Resource Group.

Ms. Groff advises employers on complying…

Susan E. Groff is a Principal in the Los Angeles, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She advises and counsels management on various employment related issues and is Co-Leader of the California Advice and Counsel Resource Group.

Ms. Groff advises employers on complying with federal and California requirements for disability accommodation and protected leaves of absence.

She also counsels employers on a host of other employment issues, including wage and hour laws, harassment and discrimination complaints, workplace investigations, reductions in force, and discipline and termination questions. Ms. Groff further conducts training and seminars on employment related issues, including sexual harassment prevention training.

Furthermore, Ms. Groff has extensive experience exclusively representing employers in labor and employment disputes. She has defended employers in employment litigation, including actions involving sexual harassment, discrimination on the basis of sex, age, race, religion, and disability, wrongful termination, and wage and hour matters, including class actions. Ms. Groff has litigated matters from inception through the appellate stage before California state and federal courts and represents employers in proceedings before state and federal administrative agencies and tribunals.