California Governor Gavin Newsom Paid Parental Leave Proposal Could Make History

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Image: Instgram / @gavinnewsom

If you have a job, and you’ve had a baby, then you likely know firsthand just how bad the paid parental leave policies are in the country. They’re … atrocious. The US is the least generous when it comes to paid leave when compared to every other industrialized country analyzed by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). We do not guarantee paid leave, leaving it up to individual companies. And unfortunately, many companies put their bottom line over the well-being of their employees.

Paid parental leave varies wildly from company to company and state to state. Some parents are eligible for a small amount of partial paid time. Other are allowed to take unpaid time off. But others still are denied any time off, forcing new moms and dads to return to work as soon as two weeks after their baby is born. California Governor Gavin Newsom is hoping to seriously improve the paid parental leave for working parents in his state. Included in his 2019 budget proposal is a major overhaul of the state’s current parental leave policy. It the budget is approved, it would make California number one in the nation for what the state offers new parents.

California’s proposed paid parental leave program would give new parents 6 months of time off, at partial pay.

Currently, California cover 6 weeks of time off with partial pay, plus 6-8 weeks of disability for birth mothers. The proposed change would be a big step up. Governor Newsom’s proposed plan would allow for parents and caregivers to take a combined six months of leave at partial pay. The time could be split up between parents or caregivers. It also covers same-sex parents, adoptive parents, and single parents – all people the current policy shortchanges when it comes to paid parental leave.

California has a massive fiscal budget ($209 billion), and the new policy would roll out slowly and be paid mostly with existing funds. It’s not yet clear if the new policy would cover caregiving leave, which the current policy does cover. In California, about 13% of workers take paid leave to care for sick spouses, family members, and children. Right now, only New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island offer paid parental and caregiving leave. Washington state, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts have policies set to take effect in the next couple of years.

In addition to paid parental leave, Governor Newsome’s proposed budget leaned heavily in favor of kids and families.

For example, he has proposed universal statewide pre-k, as well as all-day kinder. Also included in the budget was more money for subsidized childcare. When so many companies and politicians seem to be turning their backs on families, California is making them a priority. It’s certainly a nice change of pace, and so many kids are going to benefit from these programs and policies.