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Assembly Passes Bill to Assure Child-Care Leave

Times Staff Writer

A bill to permit parents of either sex to take up to four months unpaid leave to care for sick or newborn children without fear of losing their jobs was narrowly passed Thursday by the Assembly.

A 41-32 straight party-line vote, the bare minimum required for approval, sent the measure to the Senate, where it also is expected to be approved. All yes votes were cast by Democrats and all no votes by Republicans.

Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed a similar measure last year, contending that present law requires employers to grant pregnancy or childbirth leave.

Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles), sponsor of the legislation, said she hopes to persuade the governor to change his mind and sign the bill into law this year.

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The bill would make it unlawful for an employer of 25 or more employees to discriminate against a worker because he or she opted to take up to a four-month unpaid leave for child-rearing purposes.

Exceptions could be granted in cases where the employer could prove to the Fair Employment and Housing Commission that a leave would impose an undue work hardship on the company.

Moore called the bill “good and fair,” adding that Oregon, Minnesota, Tennessee, and several other states already have such a law. There also are similar bills pending in Congress.

Another proponent, Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica), said federal estimates show that two-thirds of women with children under the age of 3 are working outside the home.

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Hayden called the legislation “an overdue step toward improving the condition of the workplace that is good for California families.”

An opponent, Assemblyman Tim Leslie (R-Carmichael), charged that the bill could cause financial problems for businesses that have to train replacement workers until parents who take leaves return to their jobs.


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