Once again, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed more employment laws than he signed last year. However, there is one notable new law that will affect employers with fifteen or more employees. Labor Code Sections 1508- 1513 require employers to provide paid leave to employees who wish to donate an organ and bone marrow. The proponents of this legislation view it as a way to encourage individuals to register to donate organs and bone marrow without having to worry about wage loss.
Beginning January 1,2011, employers with fifteen or more employees must provide a paid leave of absence not exceeding thirty days to an employee who is an organ donor in any one-year period for the purpose of donating his or her organ to another person. Employers must provide a paid leave of absence not exceeding five days to an employee who is a bone marrow donor in any one-year period for the purpose of donating his or her bone marrow to another person. The leave can be taken in one or more periods.
Under the new law, the employee must request leave and provide written verification to his or her employer that he or she is an organ or bone marrow donor, and that there is a medical necessity for the donation of the organ or bone marrow. The new law specifies that any period of time during which an employee is required to be absent from his or her job by reason of being an organ or bone marrow donor is not considered a break in his or her continuous service for the purpose of the employee’s right to salary adjustments, sick leave, vacation, annual leave, or seniority.
Employers that provide their employees with health insurance benefits are required to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for the entire duration of the absence. Employers can require that employees take up to two weeks of earned but unused sick or vacation leave for organ donation, and up to five days of earned but unused sick or vacation leave for bone marrow donation. Significantly, bone marrow and organ donation leave does not run concurrently with any leave available under the Family Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act.
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