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California, others pondering new laws supporting FMLA

After years of dealing with recession-era job issues -- along with an increasingly dwindling middle class -- lawmakers along the West Coast are dedicating themselves to helping their states' employees balance work/life issues. California, for instance, is currently considering a law that would broaden Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions, bolstering the state's already strong family leave policies. In fact, California was the first state to pass such accommodating laws in 2002, leading other states such as Rhode Island and New Jersey to follow suit. The current California law has already been approved by the state Senate and is currently under consideration by the Assembly.

California is a trend-setter when it comes to extending additional legal protections for family and medical leave. In fact, the state's rules are often held up as a model for other legislative efforts. A 1 percent payroll tax throughout the state allows qualified workers to enjoy six weeks of paid maternity, family or caregiver leave at about half of their weekly salaries, with benefits reaching a maximum of $1,100. California, along with Rhode Island and New Jersey, built its family and medical leave rules on existing disability systems.

Additional measures up for consideration in California would prevent workers from being denied time off for family leave, especially those who are in the service industry. Restaurant servers and retail workers, for instance, often have fluid schedules and suffer from last-minute work scheduling changes that can make it difficult to manage their family lives. Legislation would require employers to compensate workers for last-minute schedule changes, preventing workers from being denied medical leave that they need and deserve.

California's FMLA violations law is significantly stronger than that of many other jurisdictions. Both employers and employees should learn their rights when it comes to FMLA provisions. Victims who have been illegally refused medical leave may be eligible to receive financial compensation for their mistreatment.

Source: Winona Daily News, "Lawmakers aim to help people balance work, family," Jake Govrum, Aug. 02, 2015

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