Low-Wage Workers in California Might See an Accommodating Change In FMLA
California was the first state to reform the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to give parents and caregivers a better chance at applying for job-protected leave. Yet, low-wage workers were still hesitant to request time off. Now, there might be a chance for them to through Assembly Bill 123, which passed the House vote in May.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez from San Diego County proposed this bill to make FMLA accessible for low-income families, even more so because 1.2% of their paycheck contributes towards it. If the majority votes to pass this bill in the Senate, it would increase the wage replacement rate from 60% to 90% of a worker’s earnings, according to ABC10. For many policymakers, this is a concern that’s been going on for far too long.
“I think it is cruel that… we actually deduct the 1.2% from their paycheck, and yet we are dangling something that is unattainable if you can’t afford it,” Gonzalez said, according to ABC10.
Since the start of the pandemic, most families have been living under the poverty limit. Lawmakers hope to make life more manageable for low-wage workers, even if the policies in place are not enough. So far, family leave continues to be used by those who could afford a minor pay cut.
According to The Employment Development Department, workers earning less than $20,000 per year filed close to 48,000 family leave claims in 2019 whereas, employees making more than $100,000 filed over 46,000. Although both income groups depend on family leave to bond with a newborn or tend to a sick relative, there’s still a massive imbalance.
What Workers Should Expect from This Bill
Lawmakers believe this FMLA reform will be a more realistic option (financially) for low-income workers.
Employers will not have to increase their company contributions
AB 123 would increase the amount workers pay to the state family leave fund via paycheck.
The bill might increase worker contributions by 0.1% to 0.2% annually (approx. $300 out of paychecks by 2025).
Were You Denied Time Off?
Taking family leave might not be ideal for most workers, but if you meet all requirements and get unlawfully denied by your employer, you have two options:
File a complaint with the Department of Labor (DOL)
Retain an FMLA attorney in Los Angeles to bring a lawsuit.
It’s impossible to predict an emergency. When you meet the requirements and provide your employer with appropriate notice, you should get approved. But, if you feel that your FMLA rights got violated, file an administrative complaint to investigate. It might be best to consult with a Los Angeles labor attorney for employees to recommend the best course of action.