AB 196 gives working class Californians financial security when they need to take leave.
SACRAMENTO – New legislation introduced by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) last week will empower lower and middle class workers to use the state’s Paid Family Leave program by guaranteeing 100 percent wage replacement.
Assemblywoman Gonzalez introduced Assembly Bill 196 following the unveiling of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first state budget proposal, which focuses on improving participation in the Paid Family Leave program and includes funding to extend the timeframe for family leave to up six months.
“Workers on family leave absolutely deserve more time off, but first they deserve to afford to take that time off beginning day one,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “Many working class Californians aren’t able to use our Paid Family Leave program because they can’t afford to receive only a portion of their paycheck. A worker shouldn’t have to choose between meeting their household budget and taking necessary time off during critical moments in life.”
Paid family leave ensures workers a portion of their wages when they take time off to care for a new child, recover from a serious illness, or care for an ill family member. California was the first state to establish a Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, allowing 18.7 million workers to receive 60 to 70 percent income replacement, depending on their income, for up to six weeks within a year.
Studies have shown paid family leave policies have a positive impact on infant and maternal health, resulting in increased wages for some women because they are able to retain jobs into their pregnancy and return to work after giving birth.
The reality is many lower and middle class Americans don’t have access to enough savings to offset being out of work for an extended period of time.
About one-in-six American adults have not taken the family leave they need because of concerns over a loss in wages. This figure rises to 30 percent among those household incomes under $30,000. More than a third of workers who reported using paid family leave say they have had to use savings set aside for a different purpose, take on debt, put off paying bills or cut their leave time short.
AB 196 will give working families the financial security they deserve during moments in life when they need it most.