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August 05, 2002
CA Ponders Nation's First Paid Leave Bill
Cal
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ifornia lawmakers are planning legislation that would extend federal and state laws requiring employers to provide employees with unpaid leave to care for sick family members or a new child, Reuters reports.

The California plan would affect 13 million workers and would set up a fund paid for with equal contributions from employers and employees. Workers would be able to claim up to 55 percent of their salaries for 12 weeks of leave. The bill, if passed, would take effect at the beginning of 2004.

The bill's supporters contend that the United States is one of the world's few industrial nations that lacks a national paid leave program.

According to Reuters, California's proposal would expand the state's temporary disability act to cover employees who need to take time off to care for a newborn or a seriously ill family member.

Opponents of the bill contend that it will drive up costs for employers, which could lead to job cuts. They also contend that it removes employers' control over employee benefits. And while the current unpaid leave bill covers only companies with more than 50 employees, the proposed measure would cover companies of all sized.

California governor Gray Davis has not announced an official position on the bill, which the state Assembly is expected to take up at the end of August, Reuters reports.

While groups such as the California Chamber of Commerce are lobbying to defeat the measure, other groups like the California Medical Association and the California Labor Federation are hoping that it will pass.

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