As we prepare for the 10th anniversary of the implementation of Paid Family Leave, California Work & Family Coalition members have a lot to be excited about. At the end of 2013, we passed our first expansion of the Paid Family Leave law (SB 770), which extends paid leave to those who care for siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law. In December, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the FAMILY Act which would provide 12 weeks of paid family leave to workers across the country. And, in May, Coalition members will join Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, key legislators, and advocates to highlight the benefits of California’s Paid Family Leave at a San Francisco Department of Labor Regional Forum. This forum is one of many around the country leading up to the White House Summit on Work and Family in June.
Paid Family Leave allows workers who pay into State Disability Insurance (SDI) to collect up to 55% of their income while on leave to bond with a new child or care for a family member with a serious health condition. It has been a great benefit to children and families in California. It helped me take bonding time when my twin daughters were born in 2005. And I have friends who rely on it to care for elderly parents or children with chronic conditions. While the need for Paid Family Leave is great and the benefits are many, awareness of the law is still low, especially among low income, new immigrant and young workers. This year, Coalition and partner organizations are raising the profile of Paid Family Leave to increase take up in a variety of ways.
In Los Angeles, Coalition member organizations are partnering with city Councilwoman Nury Martinez to put forward a motion directing the City to post our “6 Key Laws for Parents” posters in city buildings, create public service announcements for radio and the city television channel and provide our family leave law trainings to city workers. We are very happy that an LA city Councilmember is taking this step. One in four new babies born in California is born in Los Angeles. Yet, Los Angeles County has the lowest awareness rate of Paid Family Leave (31.4%) This is a great step forward for Los Angeles and a model for other communities. The final city council vote will be at the end of May.
In the past few months, Coalition and partner organizations initiated a campaign calling on the state to spend a portion of SDI funds on Paid Family Leave outreach and education, targeting communities with the lowest awareness. Twenty-nine organizations signed on to a letter to Budget Subcommittee 4 Chair, Assemblymember Thomas Daly, and Coalition partners attended a hearing in support of the proposal. If successful, this would be a huge win for California working families.
This year, the White House joins us in celebrating the benefits of California’s Paid Family Leave. In preparation for the White House Summit on Working Families, the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau is hosting a Work Family Forum on Tuesday, May 27thin San Francisco. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez will be the featured speaker. Ann O’Leary of Next Generation, Julia Parish from Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, and other Coalition leaders and legislative champions will also be speaking on panels about California’s leadership and continued work around work family policy. If you’re interested in attending, click here to reserve a space (click on the SF event).
And this July 1, 2014 is the ten-year anniversary of the implementation of Paid Family Leave and the first day Californians can take PFL to care for additional family members under SB 770. The California Work & Family Coalition is planning a party and you’re invited. We have a lot to celebrate as campaigns to pass paid family leave laws in other states and at the federal level are gathering momentum. We can also be proud that in California, our Coalition continues to ensure that our Paid Family Leave law works for all working families.
To follow our progress, follow us on Twitter at @WorkFamilyCA.
A version of this blog post first appeared on the website of Next Generation.