California Offers Paid Family Leave for Military Families

Military families in California will soon have access to paid family leave, beginning January 1, 2021.

California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed SB 1123 which authorizes a new paid family leave reason. Starting January 1, 2021, under the state’s existing paid family leave benefit scheme, employees with family members who serve in the Armed Forces can receive paid time off when the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent is on active duty abroad or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty abroad. The paid time off is covered when the employee uses the time to address needs arising out of their loved one’s military service.

Examples of Covered Military Exigency Leave

Often referred to as military exigency leave, this time off under the new California law provides employees with paid benefits to:

  • spend time with their family member
    • before deployment; or
    • during temporary rest and recuperation leave;
  • make arrangements for the care of their family member’s child or parent;
  • attend official military events or support programs; or
  • attend to other needs arising from their loved one’s deployment

CA Joins Other States

California is the fourth state to offer paid leave for military exigency reasons. New York became the first state to provide paid family leave benefits for military exigencies in connection with a family member’s deployment. Washington State and Massachusetts will begin providing military family leave benefits when their paid family and medical leave programs begin in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

January 1, 2021 Effective Date

Employers, insurance carriers, and third-party administrators that offer or administer voluntary paid leave plans pursuant to the California Paid Family Leave law should prepare to add the military exigency leave reason under their voluntary plan by the law’s January 1, 2021 effective date.

FINEOS Absence includes capabilities for paying benefits under paid family leave laws, employer paid leave plans, and short-term disability policies, providing accurate benefit payments. With FINEOS Absence, statutory paid family leave, employer paid plans, and short-term disability policies can run concurrently with unpaid leave laws such as FMLA and state-equivalent leave laws.

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