SACRAMENTO, Calif. California will increase the amount of money new parents can receive through the state's paid family leave program under a bill signed on Monday by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.
The measure, passed last month by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, will increase the amount paid to new parents or people caring for a sick family member to as much as 70 percent of their regular income for the poorest workers, up from 55 percent, beginning in 2018.
Those earning more will also get an increase in payments, to 60 percent from 55 percent. The legislation also eliminates a seven-day waiting period imposed on receiving the benefits.
The program will apply to all parents who take time off from work to bond with a child within one year of birth, adoption or placement as a foster child. It will also provide payments to people who take time to care for seriously ill relatives.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, welcomed the move by the most populous U.S. state and urged Congress to enact a national paid leave plan.
"This action means more hardworking Californians will have the peace of mind to know that they can take care of a new child or a sick family member," Obama said in a statement. "Yet millions of Americans still dont have access to any form of paid leave."
The California law aims to help more people take family leave, especially poorer Californians who could not afford to stop work if they got only 55 percent of their regular income, according to the bill's author, Jimmy Gomez, a Democratic assembly member.
Money for the program will come through the state's disability insurance system, which is funded from payroll deductions. Costs are projected at up to $587 million annually when it is fully implemented by 2021, but the law expires in 2022, and would have to be reauthorized at that time.
A state analysis showed the Employment Development Department would increase worker contributions by 0.1 percent from 2019 to 2021 to pay for it.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney)