California Could Be the First State to Offer Paid Parental Leave for 6 Months

Image of mother and baby.pikselstock via Deposit Photos

Lately, family leave has become a hot-button issue here in the states, but so far, no concrete measures have been taken on a federal level to allow for this time off to be paid for employees. But things may soon change in the state of California.

A new bill sponsored by the California Lawyers Association seeks to create a new parental leave policy that will be paid through six months. First proposed by Governor Gavin Newsom, it’s a swing in a totally new direction.

A source told the New York Times that the new governor included a pitch in the state budget for this plan, but implementing it is a whole other animal, however. People want to know how a six-month leave term would be funded.

As it stands – and as is widely known – the U.S. lags behind other developed countries when it comes to national paid family leave policy. It is the only developed nation without one. On the state level, only a handful have laws on the books for mandated paid leave. At the federal level, the Family Medical Leave Act provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

That is why many mothers return to work so soon after having a child, especially if their employers do not offer paid maternity or family leave. They cannot afford to be off from work without pay for an extended amount of time.

This is also the reason some employers tout their leave policy as an attractive part of their benefits package. What lawmakers in California want to do is make it so that all moms and dads who want to stay home with their new additions beyond 6 or 12 weeks can do so with pay.

Under the governor’s proposed measure, it is possible the six months of leave would be split between two caregivers. While paid leave is something that is widely supported nationwide by everyday Americans, people wonder if it will mean more payroll deductions.

The gains are real: more time spent at home is better for the baby’s development and the parent’s bonding time and stress levels. Advocates like nurse-midwife Bethany Sisaki (seen in this video) also see extended leave as beneficial for breastfeeding babies and moms whose bodies need time to heal after giving birth.

While there isn’t a clear answer yet as to where the money will come from for this initiative, many parents are excited about the prospect of receiving not only extended leave but paid parental leave that is sanctioned by the state.

Who knows? Maybe one day the U.S. will catch up to countries like Japan, Hungary, and Norway – all of which offer over 12 months of paid leave for parents. Learn more about what’s going on in California by clicking on the video below from CBS Sacramento.

What are your thoughts on paid parental leave? Are you someone who lives in California and is interested in this plan? Have you returned to work earlier or later due to your company or state’s family leave policy?


Pew Research