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California to expand paid family leave for new parents

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - California will increase the amount of money new parents can receive through the state’s paid family leave program under a bill to be signed on Monday by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, his office said Friday.

The measure, passed last month by the state legislature, would increase the amount paid to new parents or people caring for a sick family member to as much as 70 percent of their regular income for the poorest workers, up from 55 percent.

Those earning more would still get an increase in payments, to 60 percent from 55 percent. The state also plans to eliminate a seven-day waiting period imposed on receiving the benefits.

The legislation aims to help more people take family leave, especially poorer Californians who could not afford to stop work if they only got 55 percent of their regular income, according to the bill’s author Jimmy Gomez, a Democratic assembly member.

The program, administered through the state’s disability system, would apply to all parents who take off time from work to bond with a child within one year of birth, adoption or placement as a foster child. It would also provide payments to people who take time to care for seriously ill family members.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Andrew Hay