Gov. Brown Signs Bill Granting Paid Parental Leave to School Employees

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill late last month that will give paid parental leave to all California school employees for up to 12 weeks, including those who work in classified departments and community colleges.

The workers will have the option to use any accrued sick leave during that time, and then will receive at least half of their regular pay for the remaining weeks of leave, according to the bill.

A 2015 law mandated that all K-12 teachers receive paid parental leave, but the policy did not extend to other education workers.

Under current state law, new mothers can typically take about six to eight weeks of maternity leave, under the State Disability Insurance program. Mothers and fathers are also entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

The bill for school employees, which goes into effect Jan. 1, will provide more paid time off for mothers and enable fathers to receive paid leave.

The bill, introduced by San Jose Assemblywoman Nora Campos, will give education employees who work in grades K-14 paid leave for 12 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child.

“This child/parent bonding time is critical to a child’s physical as well as social-emotional growth and helps to ensure that they will be both successful in school and in life,” Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, said in a release.

The Federation of Teachers sponsored the bill alongside a number of other education unions: the California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association and the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.

Employees are entitled to 12 weeks of parental leave under the California Family Rights Act, but typically that is unpaid. School employees who didn’t have paid leave often had to choose between supporting their families and bonding with their newborns, the state Senate Floor Analysis of the bill said.

“Classified employees are the lowest paid employees working in our schools and are denied paid parental leave while others are not,” the document states. “Paid parental leave helps keep people in the workforce after they have children.”

The California School Boards Association and the San Diego Unified School District opposed the bill, according to the Senate document.

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