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California's paid family leave is better than nothing, but not much else

California's paid family leave is better than nothing, but not much else
Sen. Marco Rubio discusses his paid family leave legislation on Aug. 2. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

To the editor: The Times Editorial Board rightly points out the flaws in Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) national paid family leave proposal, but it gives the false impression that California’s system remains the gold standard for the country.

While California’s paid family leave law is a landmark achievement, it has become increasingly evident that cracks in the 15-year-old program leave many vulnerable residents to fend for themselves. While Californians working in the private sector can access benefits, many public sector workers are ineligible.

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Meanwhile, despite an improvement to the program last year, many low-income families simply cannot afford to take home only a portion of their pay. And, unlike other state programs, people working in California have no assurance they can return to their jobs after they take their leave, and they have no guarantee of continuing healthcare coverage.

California’s families deserve better, and any federal paid family leave policy should learn from where California has so far fallen short.

Katie Bethell, San Francisco

The writer is founder and executive director of the paid family leave advocacy group PL+US.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

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