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California May Soon Be The First US State To Offer 6 Months Paid Leave To Parents

California May Soon Be The First US State To Offer 6 Months Paid Leave To Parents

The Governor of the State of California, Gavin Newsom, recently proposed for a six-months paid family leave in the state.

Parental leave has become a big issue in the country with a lot of people protesting for longer paid leaves. The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has made a proposal recently to offer new parents paid leave. This is good news for all the new parents because Californians are always ready to be paid for not going in for work. The governor wants to do away with the 6-week parental leave for which they get partial pay and turn it into 6 months of fully paid leave. With the ways things have been going, this plan is very likely to work. With good news, there always comes some bad news. The proposal is not as generous as it sounds. Each worker is no allowed six months off with pay, instead, the parents have to split the leave amongst them. They can apply for anywhere between 2-4 months of paid leave each (the sum should be 6).

The proposal will turn out to be a very expensive move. The governor has not released the estimated cost of the proposition yet and the plan on how they will manage to pay for the leave is still in discussion. One of the options to raise money is by increasing taxes on payrolls. This means that the workers will be seeing a lot more deductions in their paychecks. Even though Democrats hold more than a supermajority in the state Legislature, it is not certain that the bill will gain majority support. 



 

The proposal also foreshadows a battle between the labor unions and the business interest, both holding equal power in the state Capitol. California used to be known as the leading state in new developments especially when it came to progressive family policies, a position that they have slipped from in recent years. If this bill is passed, it could take the state back to the top position. California was the very first state to embrace paid family leave in the country, back in 2002, under the leadership of Gov. Gray Davis. The law stated that workers would get six weeks of partially paid leave to care for a new baby or a sick family member.



 

The law currently provides low-income workers, 70 percent of their pay while on leave while the rest of the workers get 60 percent of their wages. The money for the partially paid leaves is brought in by a 0.9 percent tax that is taken out of most paychecks. Women who give birth even get an additional six weeks of disability pay. This is the situation in California currently. Other blue states have gone a little further in terms of leave and pay ratios. New York currently allows a ten-week paid leave, this is supposed to turn into a twelve week paid leave within the next two years. 

Source: Pexels
Source: Pexels

Massachusetts and Washington passed laws giving 12 weeks of paid family leave, set to go into effect in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Newsom's proposal is said to boost the amount of time the workers are allowed to go on leave for but there is no information on exactly how much as of yet. The 6-month leave that is said to be given will either be taken completely by one parent or split between two parents and if required, an additional family member. In an interview with The Mercury News, Ann O’Leary, Newsom’s chief of staff and a leading force behind the proposal said, “I don’t think we would do all six months to one person,". This is because it would be too onerous on employers. She explained that the leave would be split between parents, with each person getting between one to four months of paid leave.

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

Newsome is also reframing the paid leave as a health-and-economic benefit for children and families, focusing more on the 6-month period where babies would get family care rather than on the amount of leave given per worker. “I am committed to this,” said Newsom. “Why? For no other reason: It’s a developmental necessity. … Do you want a parent spending time helping build the architecture of a young child’s brain? Or do you want the government to do it for you?” This proposal potentially helps families save money as well. The average cost of taking care of a baby in California amounts to $13,000 per year. 



 

“The devil is the details. How do you fund it? Is there going to be an increase in the payroll tax? That would be a big concern for our members,” said Shawn Lewis, spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a lobbying group that represents small companies. The current plan is funded entirely from the tax on the worker's payroll. The labor unions are requesting that the employers pitch in as well. According to Steve Smith, spokesman for the California Labor Federation, “If you are a low-wage worker working two jobs to get by, having your paycheck reduced significantly so you can stay home with your baby just doesn’t work for you,”.



 

“So those who take advantage of it are on the upper end of the scale,” he continued. According to Newsome, there are going to be a lot more changes in property taxes and sales taxes soon. He also mentioned that the plan to pay for family leave may become part of a broader tax reform proposal. The Governor looks to be very serious regarding the new family leave. He has made staffing choices in a way that indicate that the bill will be passed soon. O’Leary has been studying paid leave systems for years as a lawyer, an academic, and even as a policy advisor to Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign. Angie Wei, the cabinet aide Newsom appointed to lead policy development, is a former labor union leader who was a key architect of California’s 2002 paid family leave law.



 

Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.

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