Legislation to expand workers' right to take unpaid leave to care for seriously ill family members was passed Wednesday by the Assembly..
Assembly Bill 2039 passed largely along party lines, with opposition from Republicans who said it would place an additional burden on businesses that are struggling to survive hard economic times.
Proposed by Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, the bill measure would require the state, cities and businesses with 50 or more employees to provide unpaid leaves of absences for workers to care for siblings, grandparents, grandchildren or parents-in-law with serious health conditions.
Current state law provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for workers to care for their ill parents, spouses or children.
"This bill is about family values," Swanson said.
Economic distress is forcing more relatives to live together -- siblings, grandparents, senior citizens and young adults who graduate from college but don't have the income to support themselves, Swanson said of the need for AB 2039.
"One should not have to make a choice between a job and the serious health problem of a family member," said Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach.
Republicans countered that AB 2039 would leave businesses struggling to fill shifts left vacant by the unpaid leaves. The state should quit imposing regulation after regulation upon private industry, they said
"In the real world, this is one of those job-killer bills," said Assemblyman Donald Wagner, R-Irvine.
"It's just one more burden on California businesses that are struggling," he said.
Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, said that AB 2039 would add to cumulative state regulations that are stifling.
"What we've created is a climate in which businesses can't compete anymore," Hagman said.
AB 2039 will be heard next in the Senate.