Washington, DC – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) is calling on California lawmakers to be strategic as they consider two paid leave bills in the wake of COVID-19. New legislation should not create redundancy or additional burdens for employers who already offer generous paid leave policies.
ERIC is urging the California Committee on Labor and Employment to oppose Senate Bill 729 (SB 729). The bill’s current language extends Executive Order N-51-20’s supplemental COVID-19 paid sick leave provisions to food industry employees beyond Governor Newsome’s stay-at-home order. An extension of these benefits beyond the end of that order is unnecessary and places additional burdens on struggling employers. We also ask that lawmakers oppose any similar future legislation that mimics the same benefits already provided by N-51-20 and the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). If the Committee chooses not to oppose SB729, then ERIC recommends amending it to allow supplemental paid sick leave to run concurrently with similar paid leave benefits. Finally, since the onus to pay for supplemental paid leave would fall on employers, ERIC suggests that legislation include a state tax credit, similar to the federal tax credit provided by the FFCRA, to help ease the strain on companies that have been financially impacted by the pandemic.
“ERIC shares lawmakers’ goal of securing critical supplemental paid sick leave benefits for California employees that do not have access to them during the COVID-19 public health emergency. However, the aim of any new proposals should be to secure access to these benefits for those who need them most,” said Aliya Robinson, Senior Vice President of Retirement and Compensation Policy, ERIC. “New leave laws should not create redundant mandates that would negatively impact employers that already offer paid sick leave benefits through a different source.”
In a separate comment letter to the Committee, ERIC asked lawmakers to amend SB 1383. As the bill is currently written, SB 1383 would expand the definition of a family member, or individuals whom employees can use leave benefits to care for, well beyond the standard established by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which has been used in other California leave legislation. When states deviate from the FMLA, it further complicates and fragments the existing patchwork of state paid leave policies across the nation and places additional administrative burdens for multi-state employers.
“A multi-state employer must be able to offer equal leave benefits to their employees no matter where they live or work. ERIC hopes lawmakers will allow employers to continue to offer a level playing field to their employees,” said Robinson.