Senate Bill 1383 is currently being considered in the California Assembly. The bill seeks to expand the reach of the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Employers with as few as five employees would be required to provide job-protected leave time of up to 12 weeks. SB 1383 will also affect larger employers who have been adhering to the requirements of both the CFRA and the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
“The federal leave is relatively simple to administer but California is not and we’re going to be putting small employers in jeopardy of having to administer a leave act that’s a lot more complicated than the federal act,” said Brian Little, Director of Employment Policy for the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF). “They’re setting it up so that very small employers are going to have to deal with the problems of leave administration that have never had to do it before under either CFRA or FMLA.”
Under SB 1383 even small employers will be required to hold a job position open while an employee is out on leave. A temporary replacement would need to be hired, or an employer will need to cover the absent employee’s job duties by paying overtime to other employees. SB 1383 also adds a new private right of action that exposes employers to litigation if any mistakes are made in the administration of leave time.
The provisions of the bill would also be burdensome for larger employers who would have to differentiate between the state and federal leave requirements. SB 1383 adds additional family members for which an employee can take leave time to care for, which is a separation from the FMLA. Large employers would also be subject to employees taking a substantial amount of leave time on a yearly basis. “It sets up a situation where if you’re a larger employer, somebody could take their 12 weeks of Federal Family Medical Leave Act leave and then turn around and take 12 weeks of California Family Rights Act leave and be gone for half of the year,” Little noted.
Associations representing several different industries have come out in opposition to SB 1383. The California Hospital Association, California Restaurant Association, the League of California Cities, and CFBF were among the groups to issue a letter of opposition back in May. CFBF is actively encouraging industry engagement to hopefully prevent SB 1383 from being put into effect. Little said that “if they engage, we might be able to defeat this and if they don’t, we for sure will not.”