Primer on California’s Expanded Paid Family Leave and Disability Benefits Law

05705[1]Under California law, workers covered by State Disability Insurance (SDI) have two benefits available to them: Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL). These programs provide short-term partial wage replacement benefits to workers when they need to take time off for themselves or to care for a family member. Currently, workers can receive 55 percent of their lost wages, up to a set maximum. There is also a one-week waiting period before a worker begins collecting benefits.

▪DI provides benefits to eligible California workers who have a loss of wages when they are unable to work due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Workers may receive up to 52 weeks’ worth of DI benefits.

▪PFL provides up to 6 weeks of wage replacement benefits to workers who take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a minor child within one year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption.

The good news for California workers? Better benefits without the waiting period are on the way. Beginning January 1, 2018, a new law will take effect increasing the DI and PFL benefit rate. Under the new law, employees earning one-third or less of the State’s average wage (near minimum wage) will receive 70 percent of their prior wages, while workers who make more than one-third of the average will receive 60 percent of their prior wages, up to a set maximum. Beginning January 1, 2018, the law also removes the 7-day waiting period presently required before collecting benefits.

California employers are required to provide new hires and employees taking DI or PFL leave with pamphlets informing them of their SDI benefits. Until the law takes effect on January 1, 2018, employers are required to provide employees with the current versions of the mandatory pamphlets:

Disability Insurance Pamphlet (#05303/#05306)

Paid Family Leave Pamphlet (#05705/#05708)

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