A small part of almost every paycheck in California goes into the state’s paid family leave program, which allows workers to receive partial pay when they take time off to care for a new child or sick family member.

But many people don’t take leave because the law doesn’t ensure they can go back to their job afterward. That’s changing.

Starting Jan. 1, 2021, roughly 6 million additional Californians will be able to take family leave with the guarantee that they can come back to their jobs when it’s done.

The new law, by Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara, extends job protections once reserved for employees of large companies to most workers in California.

That should make it easier for workers to take time off that they’re already paying for.

The California Chamber of Commerce and trade groups argued the new protections would make it harder for small businesses to operate, and could expose companies to more lawsuits.

But supporters, including advocates for women, children and workers, say people should be able to take care of their families without fear of losing their jobs.

California’s new paid family leave law is part of what Gov. Gavin Newsom calls his “parents’ agenda,” which he hopes eventually will permit every baby to be cared for by a family member for the first six months of life.

Keep watching CalMatters.org for more in-a-minute videos about other new laws taking effect in 2021 — a smaller tally than usual given that the coronavirus pandemic dominated the Legislature’s 2020 session.

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.