377 Diverse Organizations Urge Governor Newsom to Make Paid Leave Accessible to All

On Friday, September 16th, 2022, more than 370 organizations across California signed on to this letter urging Governor Newsom to expand family leave benefits for all Californians. Low-wage workers who are most in need of paid family leave can’t afford to take time off. Yet the passage of Senate Bill 951 (SB 951), sponsored by Los Angeles senator Maria Elena Durazo, aims to increase wage replacement rates and make paid family leave benefits accessible to all Californians.  

California’s State Disability Insurance (SDI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) were designed to ensure that all Californians could afford to take leave for these reasons, however, because SDI and PFL currently provide benefits equal to only 60 percent of most workers’ wages, they remain unaffordable for too many of California’s families who are unable to take the 40 percent pay cut. 

SB 951 would increase wage replacement rates to 90 percent for SDI and PFL benefits, a change that will be particularly beneficial to lower income workers, allowing them to spend critical bonding time with their loved ones in their times of need. This is also a racial and gender justice issue as women, those identifying as Black or Latino/a/x, and/or those born outside of the United States are more likely to hold lower wage jobs.  

Click here to download the PDF with all undersigned organizations. 


September 2022

Governor Newsom sign and enact SB 951 (Durazo): Affordable Paid Leave for All


Dear Governor Newsom,

The undersigned organizations urge you to sign SB 951 (Durazo): Affordable Paid Leave for All into law. We believe that every Californian should be able to take paid time from work to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill family member, or recover from a serious health condition without jeopardizing their economic security.

State Disability Insurance (SDI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) currently provide benefits equal to only 60% of most workers’ wages during leave, meaning leave remains unaffordable for too many families in California. Because Californians earning lower wages cannot afford to take a 40% pay cut, they instead miss out on critical bonding time (exacerbating the childcare crisis), return to work too soon despite serious health conditions, and are unable to care for their loved ones in their times of need.

SB 951 would increase wage replacement rates for PFL + SDI to 90% for lower wage workers by January 1, 2025, making PFL and SDI accessible to all Californians. Specifically, the 90% will apply to workers making 70% or less of the

state average weekly wage (for 2022, about $57,000/year). This would be fully funded by removing the contribution ceiling, having all California employees to contribute an equal percentage of their income into the fund. 91 percent of California workers would see no change in their annual contribution.[1]

Without your signature, California’s PFL and SDI will drop to providing only 55% of regular wages on January 1, 2023, making California’s payments rates the lowest in the country. This would mean that in order to take PFL, a new mother working security in Alameda would have to survive off of only $442 per week; a farmworker in Fresno who needed leave to care for his sick son would have to get by on only $330 per week.

Lower-wage workers, who cannot afford to take PFL or SDI at their current wage replacement rates, are more likely to be women, born outside of the United States, or to identify as Black or Latinx. Because these workers pay into the DI Fund out of every paycheck but are unable to access its benefits, their contributions subsidize higher wage workers’ leaves. This is especially devastating given the wide body of research showing that paid family leave improves health outcomes for parents and children, reduces the length of hospital stays, and also improves worker retention and productivity.  In fact, Small Business Majority polling demonstrates the vast majority of small businesses support publicly-administered paid leave programs. SB 951 is supported by health equity, small business, early childhood, LGBTQ+, elder, and worker advocates.

California led the way by passing the first paid family leave law in the nation but has fallen behind.  The ability to bond with a child, care for an ill family member, or heal, should not be limited to those with higher incomes.

For all these reasons, we urge you to support California’s families and sign SB 951 into law to support the ability for ALL families take the time to heal, bond with a child, or care for an ill family member.


The Undersigned Organizations


[1] Source: Budget Center analysis of US Census Bureau, Current Population Survey public-use microdata analyzed online from IPUMS CPS (University of Minnesota, www.ipums.org)