The California legislature is considering several bills that would impact employers, including a minimum wage increase and extension of family leave rights. Another bill would protect employees who smoke medical marijuana.
Minimum Wage Increase
The California Assembly is considering AB 10, a bill that would increase the state minimum wage from $8.00 to $8.50 per hour. Even more importantly, the bill includes a provision to increase the minimum wage each year based on inflation.
Currently at $8.00 per hour, the California minimum wage is tied with Massachusetts for the seventh highest in the nation, after Washington, Oregon, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada and Vermont. About a dozen states have annual cost-of-living increases to the minimum wage, including Florida, Arizona and Colorado.
Expanded Family Leave
If passed, the expanded CFRA would permit employees to take time off to care for an adult son or daughter, a mother- or father-in-law, grandparent, sister or brother, grandson or granddaughter, or a domestic partner with a serious health condition.
The federal FMLA was modeled after the CFRA, one of four current California family rights laws. Currently both FMLA and CFRA permit an employee to take time off to care for spouse or parent. Leave is also permitted to care for a son or daughter under the age of 18 who has a serious health condition. The FMLA also permits an employee to take leave for a son or daughter over 18 with a significant disability that began before the serious health condition.
Under the current FMLA and CFRA, an employee cannot take time off when her 22-year-old son has terminal leukemia, because the son does not meet the legal definition of a “child” under those laws. Nor can she take time off to care for a 36-year-old daughter who is pregnant and on bed rest. If the proposed bill passes, the mother or father would be able to take time off to care for the patient in either case.
The proposed change to the CFRA would expand the definition of “child” to include any offspring, even if he or she is not disabled and is over the age of 18. In fact, a parent would be entitled to take time off to care for a “child” with a serious health condition who was 49 years old or older.
AB 59 would also expand the definition of “parent” under the CFRA to include a mother-in-law or father-in-law. Currently an employee can take time off to care for a father or mother who had a stroke, but not a father-in-law or mother-in-law.
Proponents of the expanded CFRA say that it reflects changes in society, including an aging population that is often single due to death or divorce. Critics say that these measures will only increase the burden on California employers.
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