Welcoming a new baby into a family is an important and joyous life event. While adjusting to life with a newborn, the last thing people should worry about is the safety of their jobs. California and federal employment law recognizes this and offers job protection to new parents, which is a good thing because 65 percent of children in California live in households in which all parents work outside the home.

The Family and Medical Leave Act, enacted by Congress in 1993, gives all employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after welcoming a new child, either after a pregnancy or through an adoption. However, only about half of the nation’s workforce qualifies under FMLA. In order to qualify, the employee’s business must employ at least 50 people.

California’s state protection for new families goes further than the federal FMLA minimums. According to a new study, California ranks highest in the country for providing job protections to new parents. In the study, California and Connecticut were the only states to receive an A-minus grade for their laws; no state scored higher than that. On the other hand, 18 states scored an F for their policies.

California received its grade, in part, for its creation of an insurance program in 2002. Under this program, employees can actually take paid leave after welcoming a new child. Still, this insurance program does not protect an employee’s job.

Job protection is, however, available under the California Family Rights Act. Under this law employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks unpaid leave after expanding their families if they have worked at least 1,250 hours for an employer, they work full time and the employer has 50 or more employees.

While California offers these great protections, there are still employers that do not follow these laws. Those employees who have taken leave after the birth or adoption of a child and have faced punishment at work may have legal options available to them.

Source: Central Valley Business Times, “California gets “A-” for workplace and leave policies for new parents,” May 8, 2012