California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia family frustrated that governor, Harris used fire-damaged property for ‘photo opportunity’ Pac-12 moves toward ‘return to competition’ after Big Ten announces resumption of football season Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire leaving California: ‘Terrible governance has consequences’ MORE (D) on Thursday signed legislation expanding paid family leave benefits to those who work for employers with five or more employees.

The legislation is set to expand job-protected family leave to approximately 6 million more California residents and allow workers affected by COVID-19, giving time to care for themselves or a family member. 

“Californians deserve to be able to take time off to care for themselves or a sick family member without fearing they’ll lose their job,” Newsom said in a Thursday statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only further revealed the need for a family leave policy that truly serves families and workers, especially those who keep our economy running. This bill will ensure almost all Californians can access the time off they need to keep themselves and their communities healthy.” 

The legislation, introduced as SB 1383 by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D), ensures leave for employees “to bond with a newborn, care for a seriously ill family member, address a military exigency or care for their own illness.”

The law will also allow workers to take time off to care for a larger group of relatives, including siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, Politico reported. It also extends protections to employees taking time off when relatives are called to active military duty. 

The bill does not require employers to pay workers while they are on leave. However, employers must hold their jobs for up to 12 weeks. 

Millions of workers in the state have been unable to utilize leave benefits because their companies were too small, CBS Los Angeles reported.

Newsom also recently signed legislation allowing smaller businesses and employers to request free mediation before an employee can file a lawsuit over their leave benefits.

The state’s paid family leave policy was extended in 2019 from six weeks to eight weeks for each parent or caretaker or a newborn infant. 

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