WA Prepares to Launch Paid Family, Medical Leave Program
Thursday, December 12, 2019
SEATTLE – The state's paid family and medical leave program is gearing up to give workers time off when they need it most.
Starting in January, Washington will become the fifth state to offer comprehensive leave, allowing employees to take up to 12 – and in some cases 18 – weeks off to care for a new child, a loved one or in the event of a medical emergency.
Marilyn Watkins, policy director for the Economic Opportunity Institute, says some employers in the state already offer leave benefits available but they're mainly for highly paid workers. Most lower-wage workers don't have this option.
She says the goal of this program is to make leave accessible to everyone.
"So that they can keep themselves healthy and be as healthy as they can be, that they can really nurture their young children, as well as care for those sick family members in ways that benefit the health and well-being of everybody," she stresses.
Benefits are funded through a payroll premium of 0.4% that began last January.
Watkins says Washington state's efforts to provide leave are different because the state had to build the program from scratch. The other four states added paid family leave to their already existing temporary disability insurance programs.
Employees who have worked 820 hours the previous year for any combination of employers are eligible.
Watkins says Washington learned from other states and will offer the greatest wage replacement to low-wage workers who make less than half of the statewide average weekly wage, which is $628.
"They'll get 90% of their gross wages before taxes and everything are taken out of it, so they'll get pretty close to what their full paycheck would be when they're out on leave,” she points out. “And middle income workers here in Washington will actually also get higher benefits than they do in the other states that have existing programs."
The website paidleave.wa.gov has more information on how to apply.
Disclosure: Economic Opportunity Institute contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Early Childhood Education, Livable Wages/Working Families, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
get more stories like this via email
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansans ages 16 to 26 who are or have been in the foster-care system now are eligible for one-time payments of at least $750…
HARRISBURG, Pa. - U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., wants to bring back the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public-works program from the 1930s that created …
Health and Wellness
CHICAGO - Overdose deaths in Illinois rose by more than a quarter from 2019 to 2020, and medical experts are warning that pills not prescribed by a …
Health and Wellness
MINNEAPOLIS - As COVID cases trend upward again, public-health experts are setting the record straight on certain storylines about new infections…
APPLETON, Wis. - The pandemic paused many facets of life, and a new report says wellness checkups for children were among them. With school resuming …
ALBANY, N.Y. - A ballot measure could give New York residents the constitutional right to a healthy environment, and on Tuesday a group of state …
SALEM, Ore. - Young people of color are locked up at disproportionately high rates compared with their white peers, despite recent signs the gap is …
HELENA, Mont. - A Montana campaign is renewing its efforts to help identify developmental delays in young children. The Centers for Disease Control …