McLeod Witham

California To Enhance Paid Family Leave and Disability Benefits


Golden State To Increase Monetary Benefits Available As Of January 1, 2018

California was the first state in the nation to offer paid family leave.  Today, it remains one of only a handful of states in the country to offer such a program.  Since its implementation in 2004, Californians who have the SDI deduction taken from their paychecks - including all employees and self-employed individuals who choose to contribute - are eligible to receive partial wage replacement benefits through the state’s Employment Development Department for up to six weeks, in order to bond with a new baby or care for a seriously ill family member, among other reasons.  Wage replacement funds are also available to Californians who are placed on a disability leave by their physicians.

Effective January 1, 2018, California has made changes to the benefits available to workers.  Going forward, eligible workers will receive 60 to 70% of their gross wages while on Paid Family Leave, depending on their income level.  Previously, only 55% of gross wages were provided.  Similar financial adjustments have been made to increase the state’s disability payments.  In addition, the state has done away with the waiting period that previously forced Paid Family Leave participants to go without financial benefits for a week at the start of their leaves. In another change, benefits are now capped at an increased amount of $1,216.

Employers and employees alike should note that the receipt of financial benefits from the EDD does not necessarily mean that an impacted employee is entitled to or has fulfilled the requirements necessary to receive job-protected leave.