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California lawmakers approve bill to give workers full pay for family leave
The California State Assembly on Thursday passed a bill that would give workers full wages when out on family leave.
Lawmakers voted 50-3, sending the bill to the state Senate. The legislation would give workers in the state 100 percent of their wages when on family leave, rather than the program's current 60 or 70 percent.
Family leave in the state includes taking time off to care for a seriously ill family member or to spend time with a child within one year of its birth or placement in a family.
The law currently allows for up to six weeks of partial pay for employees who take time off for family reasons. It also has a maximum wage replacement rate of $1,252 per week.
Lawmakers supporting the bill argue that it will help more low-income workers take paid family leave by ensuring their finances. Critics, however, argue the measure would be costly.
State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D), who introduced the bill, has argued that working class Californians "can't afford to receive only a portion of their paycheck."
"Workers who need to use family leave absolutely deserve more time off, but first they deserve to be able to take that time off," she has said. "A worker shouldn't have to choose between meeting their household budget and taking necessary time off during critical moments in life."
Gonzalez's office says California would be the first state in the nation to guarantee full income replacement if the bill becomes law.