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San Francisco mandates 6 weeks of paid parental leave

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

On April 5, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to require employers to provide six weeks of fully paid leave for new parents, expanding on California’s existing partial paid leave law.

The San Francisco law may be a harbinger of more local legislation to accomplish what the federal government and state legislatures have, so far, been unable to do. While four states—including California—provide some form of paid parental leave, no state, city or municipality has until now mandated that the leave be fully paid and, at least, partially employer funded.

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, for employers of 50 or more. Those with 35 or more employees must comply starting in July 2017. Organizations with 20 or more employees have until July 2018 to begin offering paid leave.

Employers won’t have to pay the entire amount. Instead, the law says employers must pay the difference between what California’s existing parental leave law pays through payroll taxes. That law provides 55% of pay, leaving San Francisco employers to pick up the tab for the remaining 45%.

New fathers as well as mothers are eligible, as are both partners in a same-sex couple. Employees become eligible after working for their employer for 180 days.

The federal FMLA grants up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. State laws in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island provide partial pay, funded through payroll deduction plans into which all employees pay. The New York legislature last month approved up to eight weeks of partial pay at 50%, also through a payroll insurance deduction plan.

A fifth state, Washington, passed legislation authorizing partially paid leave in 2007 but has not set up the insurance system to actually provide the benefit.

Final note: According to the International Labor Organization, out of 185 nations worldwide, only the United States and Papua New Guinea do not provide paid parental leave to all workers.

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