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45,000 state workers will get a new family medical benefit next year

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Tens of thousands of California state employees are expected to gain a new benefit next year that will let them take paid time off if they have a baby or must care for a family member experiencing a medical emergency.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is expanding paid family leave to about 45,000 managers and supervisors who are not represented by unions, according to a Sept. 24 memo from state Human Resources Director Adria Jenkins-Jones.

Those workers will be eligible for paid family leave as of July 1, 2019, according to the memo.

California since 2002 has required private employers to offer up to six weeks of paid family leave to their workers. It’s a state-run insurance program funded by payroll deductions.

Public employers don’t have to offer the benefit, although some do.

About 96,000 California state workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1000 are eligible for paid family leave. The state’s other roughly 150,000 employees cannot claim the benefit.

Brown late last month vetoed Assembly Bill 3145 Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, which would have required the state to extend paid family leave to managers and supervisors.

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Brown wrote in his veto message that the bill was unnecessary because his administration was already moving in that direction.

Most California state workers receive non-industrial disability insurance instead of the state-run family medical leave. In general, the disability insurance offered to most state workers is less generous than family leave and is restricted to the worker’s own injuries and illnesses, according to a legislative analysis of Salas’ bill.

Expanding paid family leave in the state workforce will not necessarily cost taxpayers. Employees chip in a payroll deduction for the benefit. Under the current program, public agencies pick up the entire cost of non-industrial disability insurance, according to an analysis of the Salas bill.