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2021 New Laws | Here is what's new in paid family leave and property taxes

California is expanding who can request family leave and increased taxes on property that is related to inheritance.

CALIFORNIA, USA — As most people are waiting for 2020 to come to an end, 2021 will bring new changes to family leave in California and property taxes related to inheritance. 

The state is also increasing the minimum wage at the start of the new year. Businesses with 25 workers or less will be paying employees $13 an hour, while businesses with 26 workers or more will be paying $14 an hour.

Here is what you need to know about the new laws coming to the books starting on Jan. 1.


Summary:  Expands family leave so that workers could care for a domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling or parent-in-law who has a serious health condition.

What's new: SB-1383 is an amendment that expands who would be able to request family leave. This would make it unlawful for a business owner with more than 50 workers to refuse a family leave request from an employee who logged in at least 1,250 hours during the previous annual period.  

This amendment prohibits employers with five or more employees to refuse a request to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a year to take care of a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or domestic partner.

Why is it needed: 

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, the author of the bill, said federal family leave tied to the coronavirus pandemic, which expires at the end of the year, excludes about 80% of the workforce. 

She argues that this is why this bill is necessary to protect California workers impacted by the pandemic to take care of their families. 

A coalition of 200 advocacy organizations and unions argue the purpose of wage replacement and job protection laws is to allow families to be there for a baby's birth, a parent dying of cancer or a partner suffering a stroke. They argue the current law does not align with these values. 

Advocates also said that paid family leave does not currently address the LGBTQ community, those who care for loved ones with disabilities, veterans and an increasing number of those who are living in multigenerational homes.

Low-wage workers are less likely to be covered by family leave as the law currently stands, advocates said. Many people work for a company that has less than 50 employees.   


Summary: Expands family leave to members of the military 

What's new: This bill expands an existing law that would require employers to provide up to eight weeks of wage replacement benefits if an employee needs time off to take care of a family member to military members. 

Why is it needed:

According to an argument provided in the California Senate analysis of the bill, it can be difficult for active-duty members to see their family.

"AB 2399 is mindful of the fact that reuniting our soldiers and families is important," the argument reads. "So, enabling workers to receive paid family leave to be able to reconnect with their family members is very admirable."

Prop 19

Summary: Increases taxes on property tied to inheritance in order to benefit seniors, disabled and victims of wildfires and disasters.

What's new: California property owners are paying the same taxes based on the price they originally paid after California enacted a law to keep property taxes down in 1978. 

Proposition 19 lets people keep their tax base when they move anywhere in California up to three times and only pay higher property taxes on the difference. 

Why it's needed: 

According to an argument in support of Prop 19 provided by Ballotpedia, this would allow wildfire victims to move anywhere in the state without having to face massive tax hikes.


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