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Why California’s New Sick Day Law Is Important For Parents Everywhere


California is once again getting all progressive when it comes to family leave. The state, which is already home to the most paternity-leave-taking dads, signed into law a bill that requires companies with more than 25 employees to provide up to 40 hours a year for working parents to take paid days off for “child-related activities.” If this sounds like a great answer to the perennial question, “What the hell am I supposed to do with my kid during a snow day?”, that’s because it is.

The law is notable because of how broadly it defines “child-related activities.” Sick kid, suspended kid, school emergencies (like the recent terror threats that closed Los Angeles schools) — it even provides for parents who need time off to find their kid suitable schools or daycare. Also notable is how broadly the law defines “parent”: stepparents, foster parents, grandparents — the state of California isn’t splitting hairs over definitions of primary caregivers. And, to be clear, this is not even close to the norm nationwide. Only 4 states and 20 cities have paid sick leave laws in place, and none of them are as flexible as the one California just passed.

State family leave laws

Analysts have some reason to believe that the law could be influential nationwide. For one thing, national businesses with California offices could adopt the law as company policy just to simplify their benefits offering. For another, the more individuals grow accustomed to work-life policies that acknowledge the reality of working parents, the more likely it is they’ll demand them elsewhere. Considering how California companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix are aggressively implementing these policies as recruiting tactics, you could say the state is actually playing catch up with its own, more progressive, corporate citizens.

Hopefully, the rest of the country plays catch up with all of them before your kid’s next snow day.