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California's pioneering paid family-leave law may expand to help more low-income workers

Melanie Mason writes, "Nearly 15 years ago, California became the first state in the nation to guarantee workers paid time off to care for a new child or an ailing family member.

Now, as both Democratic presidential candidates tout their paid family-leave policies — and as Hillary Clinton gives shout-outs to California's law — a measure to make the state program more lucrative for workers is on the fast track in the Legislature.

In an attempt to entice more low-wage workers to take advantage of the program, people earning around minimum wage would be paid 70% of their salaries under the proposal by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Echo Park), a boost from the current rate of 55%.

Those with higher salaries would be eligible for 60% of their pay while on leave.

'One of the biggest barriers to people actually using paid family leave was low-wage replacement,' said Gomez, adding that a higher pay rate would make the program "more useful for low-income workers.'

Gomez's original proposal, which would have increased both the paid time workers could take off and the amount of money they could recoup, easily cleared both houses last year. But the assemblyman held his measure back before it cleared its final legislative hurdle."

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