Lawmakers recently debated two labor bills on CalChamber’s annual list of “job killers.” Assembly Bill 95 would expand unpaid bereavement leave. Asm. Evan Low of Santa Clara County (above) said the measure would help families coping with the loss of loved ones during the pandemic.

During the hearing, Low was emphatic that the leave would be unpaid. Yet CalChamber Policy Advocate Ashley Hoffman said that unpaid leave can still cost employers thousands of dollars to compensate for an absent worker. Hoffman argued the bill would hurt businesses at a difficult time and that most employers already have policies for this or find ways to accommodate for the time off.

She listed the many new leave policies that have passed since the start of the pandemic:

  • Two rounds of supplemental paid sick leave,
  • Paid leave under a Cal/OSHA emergency standard,
  • And an expansion of sick leave to provide care for a family member.

Republican Asm. Heath Flora of Ripon worried the bill would lead to predatory lawsuits, while Asm. Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego said the measure should go further by including small businesses as well. California Farm Bureau supported CalChamber’s arguments against the measure.

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Hoffman shared similar concerns over a bill that would expand the definition of a family member for family leave. The proposal would include individuals not related by blood.

“This includes a friend, a neighbor, a member of the LGBTQI community, who can prove their dependency with a doctor's note,” explained Asm. Buffy Wicks of Oakland.