SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California's Paid Family Leave Program is being expanded to include workers who take time off to care for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and in-laws, under legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The California Paid Family Leave Program allows eligible employees to take up to six weeks of partially paid leave from their jobs each year, but until now it covered only those workers needing time off to care for a child, spouse or registered domestic partner.
"Our state's Paid Family Leave Program will now more accurately reflect the broader range of caregiving responsibilities that families have in our state," said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who introduced SB 770.
"This will put families on a stronger footing by preventing workers from having to make the terrible choice between putting food on their table and caring for a seriously ill grandparent," Jackson added.
The program already is funded by deductions taken from all California workers' paycheck, so expanding will result in no additional costs to businesses or taxpayers, Jackson said.
"Workers in California pay for the Paid Family Leave program out of their own paychecks, but many have been unable to access the benefit due to the law's narrow definition of family," said Sharon Terman, senior staff attorney at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, which supported the bill. "This will allow California workers to care for their close family members without jeopardizing their economic wellbeing."
California became the first state to adopt such a program In 2002. The expansion takes effect July 1, 2014.