California Governor Newsom has recently enacted a series of impactful employment bills set to take effect on January 1, 2024. Among these legislative changes, the implications for surrogacy and individuals engaging in assisted reproduction are particularly noteworthy. This article will delve into how the 2024 California Employment Laws, specifically Senate Bill 616, Senate Bill 848, and potentially Assembly Bill 518, affects the benefits for individuals involved in surrogacy arrangements or utilizing assisted reproductive technology.
Senate Bill No. 616 Sick Days: Paid Sick Days and Accrual and Use
Under the amended Senate Bill 616, California’s paid sick leave law has been revised to raise the minimum required paid sick leave from three days or 24 hours to five days or 40 hours. Employees at minimum will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. After 90 days (about 3 months) from the start of employment, employees can use their available balance. Employers have the option to cap the employees’ use to 80 hours instead of the previous cap of 40 hours. Additionally, employers must allow employees to carry over no less than 40 hours of unused paid sick leave to the next calendar year. Employees are able to see their accrued sick leave balance on their pay stubs. To prepare for this policy change, every employee and employer should review their paid sick leave policies before the start of 2024 to ensure they are correctly abiding by the bill.
This is a benefit to surrogates who are employees, because even if an employer offers no paid time off, the employer will still be required to provide sick leave, now up to 5 days for every six months.
Senate Bill No. 848 Employment: Leave for Reproductive Loss
Senate Bill 848 is of note to employed intended parents, surrogates or those who are using assisted reproduction. SB 848 will provide essential leave to employees grappling with a challenging and previously unrecognized personal matters.
This legislation acknowledges the emotional and physical challenges associated with reproductive loss, including miscarriage, unsuccessful assisted reproduction like in vitro fertilization (IVF), or failed adoption attempts. This Senate bill establishes legal safeguards for employees by prohibiting employers from denying a reasonable request for up to five days of leave following a reproductive loss event.
Senate Bill 848 specifies that employees must take the leave within three months of the reproductive loss event. While the reproductive loss leave may be unpaid, the Senate bill permits employees to use other leave balances, such as accrued and available paid sick leave.
To have a reasonable balance between employee needs and business operations, the bill imposes a cap on the total amount of leave at 20 days within a 12-month period.
Assembly Bill 518 Eligibility for Paid Family Leave
Assembly Bill 518 broadens eligibility to receive Paid Family Leave benefits, encompassing employees on leave to care for a “designated person” which potentially extends significant benefits to unmarried surrogates' partners who will soon be able to take paid leave to care for their surrogate partner. To learn about eligibility and applying for benefits of paid leave in California, read our article here.
In 2023, the California legislature expanded the state family medical leave act, known as the California Family Rights Act, enabling employees to take unpaid family leave for the care of a "designated person." Instead of previously being limited to "family members," “designated person” is broadly defined as "any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship." Thus, partners who are not related or married would fall under the definition of “designated person.”
AB 518 would extend this trend to the state's Paid Family Leave insurance program.
Under the proposed legislation, employees may specify a designated person when filing a claim for paid leave. This will allow a surrogate’s partner to designate the surrogate as their designated person.
While AB 518 passed the Assembly, it was tabled by the Senate for the session. Should AB 518 be enacted into law, its provisions are slated to take effect on July 1, 2024.
In conclusion, Senate Bill 616 and Senate Bill 848 offer increased leave benefits for sick leave and added benefits for bereavement of reproductive loss. While these are not major shifts, these laws are likely to benefit many people over time. Assembly Bill 518, if passed, will also benefit unmarried partners of surrogates and surrogates by providing paid family leave, in addition to existing unpaid leave.
For expert legal assistance with your surrogacy or reproductive journey, contact us now.