California EDD expands paid leave program for people taking care of family members

California is expanding job protections to people who take time off to care for a family member.

The state's Employment Development Department is now extending the Paid Family Leave program from six to eight weeks of available benefits.

The program provides eligible mothers, fathers and caregivers with roughly 60-70% of their income to care for a new child or an ill family member, including those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Those benefits can be used all at once or can be staggered or split up over a period of 12 months.

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In February, before the pandemic, unemployment was at a record low in California 3.9%. Gov. Gavin Newsom said California's unemployment could peak at 24.5%. To help, the state is extending benefits.

Meanwhile, the California Senate voted to extend protections to more people in similar situations.

The current law only protected the jobs of people who work at companies with at least 50 employees. But the Senate voted 21-12 on Thursday to expand those protections to companies with at least five employees.

Republicans and some moderate Democrats opposed the bill. They argued it was too hard for small businesses to find short-term replacements for employees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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