State lawmakers aim to expand Family Leave Act

September 6, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you have a sick relative, the law might be about to change dramatically to allow you more time to care for them. The governor has a bill on his desk that radically changes the Family Leave Act.

Lisa Bautista found herself in a situation where she couldn't help care for her grandmother as much as she wanted in her final days.

The nurse asked her boss if she could take paid time off, but couldn't.

Workers can only get 55 percent of their pay only for up to six weeks when caring for sick parents, children, spouses and domestic partners -- no one else.

"As part of the paid Family Leave Act, grandmothers aren't included, and I really couldn't believe that. She's my grandmother," said Bautista.

The state Legislature sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would expand the list of relatives the California Family Leave Act would apply to: grandparents, siblings and in-laws.

Supporters say that reflects the responsibilities of today's families.

Employees pay for it through their paycheck deductions under short-term disability insurance.

"These are funds that are paid for by employee, not the employer. They're monies that are put into a fund by each of us at our workplace," said St. Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.

Opponents sympathize with families, but they say there comes a point when somebody has to do the work.

Imagine a small business that doesn't have a lot of employees.

"At the end of the day, somebody has to do some work, otherwise the company can't stay in business. We want to support those families, that's why we support parents taking time off, but adding grandparents, siblings, goes too far," said St. Sen. Joel Anderson, R-La Mesa.

Bautista thinks she'll have other sick relatives to care for and urges Brown to sign the measure.

"I can't live without my pay, especially in this economy. I have two children. I'm the main breadwinner," said Bautista.

Brown has until mid-October to take action the proposed expansion of the California Family Leave Act.


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