Amended Leave Mandate Is Attack on Small Business



The California Chamber of Commerce is urging small business owners to contact their legislators and the Governor to express strong opposition to SB 654 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara).

The bill, identified as a job killer, threatens to significantly harm small businesses in California who employ as few as 20 employees within a 75-mile radius, by proposing yet another protected leave of absence mandate. The proposal requires 6 weeks of protected employee leave for child bonding, and exposes small employers to the threat of costly litigation.

Using the gut-and-amend process, SB 654 revives the language of a previously dead job killer bill that failed because lawmakers recognized the harmful impact it would have on California’s job climate.

In the final weeks of session and after some membership changes to the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson has brought the measure back.

Businesses are outraged because the bill imposes significant burdens as they attempt to manage a productive and profitable business while also juggling the cumulative impact of all available protected leaves in California.

SB 654 would make California the only known state in the nation to impose the lengthy list of protected leaves of absence available here (see graphic in August 19 Alert).

Existing programs California employees may access now include the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), paid family leave, pregnancy disability, military spouse leave, organ donation, bone marrow, school activities, volunteer firefighting, reserve peace officer and emergency rescue personnel leave, civil air patrol and paid sick leave.

Key Vote

SB 654 passed the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on August 22, 4-2.

Ayes: Thurmond (D-Richmond), Chu (D-San Jose), Lopez (D-San Fernando), McCarty (D-Sacramento).

Noes: Patterson (R-Fresno), O’Donnell (D-Long Beach).

Not voting: Linder (R-Corona).

Action Needed

As Alert went to print, SB 654 awaited action by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Contact your legislators and the Governor and ask them to oppose SB 654. An easy-to-edit sample letter is available at

Staff Contact: Jennifer Barrera

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Jennifer Barrera
About Jennifer Barrera
Jennifer Barrera, senior policy advocate, works with the executive vice president in developing policy strategy and represents the CalChamber on labor and employment, taxation and legal reform issues. Before joining the CalChamber in September 2010, she worked at a statewide law firm that specializes in labor/employment defense. She also advised small and large businesses on compliance issues, presented seminars on employment-related topics, and authored articles in human resources publications. Barrera earned a B.A. in English from California State University, Bakersfield, and a J.D. with high honors from California Western School of Law.