Florida Family Leave Act – What You Need To Know
New legislation that is known as the “Florida Family Leave Act,” is being circulated through the House under HB 899, introduced by Rep. Tracie Davis (D-Jacksonville), and under the Senate as SB 1194, introduced by Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa). If passed, this set of legislation would require companies to allow employees who have worked at the business for at least 18 months to take paid family leave for up to three months after the birth or adoption of a child. Under these new laws, parents who take a foster child into their care would also be able to take family leave. The new law would apply to both men and women so that they can effectively bond with their children as mother and father.
The purpose for the new law, as quoted from the Senate Bill 1194,
“The need for paid family leave has increased as the participation of both parents in the workforce has increased, and the number of single parents has grown. Despite knowing the importance of time spent bonding with a new child, the majority of workers in this state are unable to take family leave because they are unable to afford leave without pay. When a worker does not receive income during a leave of absence, his or her family suffers as a result of the worker’s loss of income, increasing demand on the state’s reemployment assistance program, and dependence on the state’s welfare system. Therefore, in an effort to assist workers in reconciling the demands of work and family, the Legislature intends to require employers to allow employees to take paid family leave to bond with their minor child during the first three months after the birth of the child or the placement of the child through the foster care system or by adoption.”
To receive family leave, an employee must: (1) Request the leave as soon as is practicable; (2) Notify the employer of the anticipated duration of the leave; (3) comply with any reasonable procedures established by the employer. An employer may require an employee who requests family leave to provide consistent documentation to verify the employee’s eligibility. This legislation would coincide with the relevant provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and any time taken under the Florida Family Leave Act would reduce the amount of time an employee could take under the FMLA. The most significant difference between the two, Florida’s law would allow for that employee to have paid time off, whereas the Federal FMLA is unpaid time off.
The deeper reason for this new legislation may be financial rather than the state sympathizing with the parents, “[w]hen a worker does not receive income during a leave of absence [under the FMLA], his or her family suffers as a result of the worker’s loss of income, increasing demand on the state’s reemployment assistance program and dependence on the state’s welfare system.” However, regardless of the intent behind the law, with the passage of the Florida Family Leave Act, parents will have access to three months of paid time off to bond and raise their newborn children. If passed, this bill will become effective on July 1, 2020. If you or your significant other are currently expecting a child, it may be wise to remain at your current job if you will meet the year and a half employment threshold for three months paid time off when the baby is due.