California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed Senate Bill 63 into law, expanding parental leave protections to those individuals who work for employers with at least 20 employees. Under the new law, which is set to take effect on January 1, 2018, employers with at least 20 employees must allow an employee who has more than 12 months of service with the employer to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. The new law expands the protections afforded under existing law, which had previously applied only to employers with 50 or more employees.
The new law also requires the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to create a parental leave mediation pilot program, which permits an employer to request mediation within 60 days of receipt of a right-to-sue notice and thereby stay any civil action by the employee. However, an employee may notify the Department in response that he or she has elected not to participate in a mediation and thereby proceed with the civil action.