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June 12, 2002
CA Coming Closer to Paid Leave
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California Senate has approved a bill that calls for letting workers take paid leaves from their jobs to care for seriously ill family members or new children.

The measure, by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, was sent to the Assembly by a 21-15 vote. If it becomes law, California will become the first state to allow such paid leave.

California currently allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for themselves, a seriously ill parent, child or spouse or because of the birth or adoption of a child.

Kuehl said most workers can't afford to take advantage of that program.

Her bill, according to the Associated Press, would allow about 12 million workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent or domestic partner or to care for a new child.

Workers taking part in the program would receive 55 percent of their wages, up to a maximum of $490 a week. The maximum payment would increase each year based on an inflation factor.

Employers and employees would split the cost of the program, which is estimated to be about $42 a year per worker. Using that figure, an employer with 10 employees would pay $210 annually and each of the 10 employees would pay $21 into the leave fund.

A doctor would have to verify that there was a seriously illness or a new child before an employee could take a leave.

Sen. Ray Haynes, R-Riverside, complained that lawmakers were assured when they approved the unpaid leave program several years ago that it would never be turned into a paid program.

Proponents, however, said it would benefit employers in the long run, since employees would return to work eventually.

To view the Associated Press story, via the San Diego Union-Tribune, click here.

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