- Mike Blount
- Communications Director
SACRAMENTO – (Monday, June 21, 2021) – California’s Paid Family Leave program remains out of reach for many working families who can’t afford to take time off of work after the birth of a child or caring for a seriously ill family member. Today, Assembly Bill 123 to guarantee 90% of a worker’s income when they take paid family leave was unanimously approved by the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee with bipartisan support.
“There’s no reason a working mom should ever feel forced to return to work early after having a baby because she can’t afford to take time off and use the paid family leave benefits she already pays for,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “Parents should be focused on spending quality time bonding with their newborn during this time, not worrying about how to make ends meet.”
Nearly one-third of California workers who were eligible for and needed paid leave did not apply for the program due to concerns over a loss in wages. Under the current program, a minimum wage worker earning $14 dollars per hour would still only receive 60 percent of their wages – the lowest wage replacement rate for any minimum wage worker in the country. Even if they were working full-time, the current rate would only provide them about $1,344 per month, barely covering the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment.
"When my daughter was born, I didn't know I had the right to take leave as a male parent until somebody informed me that I had that right," said Jerry Sandoval, a parent who testified in support of AB 123 during the committee hearing. "It meant the world to me, spending time with my newborn ... but when I got my first check from the EDD, I realized I couldn’t afford to stay on paid family leave. I didn’t know I wouldn’t be getting my full pay, and it wasn't possible to pay my bills. I became an advocate because if I need paid family leave in the future I want to be able to take it."
AB 123 would expand paid family leave benefits for the 18.7 million working Californians covered under this program. Because paid family leave benefits are not subject to state income taxes, the increase under AB 123 to 90% income replacement would allow most low- and middle-income families to receive their regular take-home pay while on leave.
For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov