Early in 2016, my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer. I was self-employed; he had great benefits at Microsoft. I worked about half as much as I normally do to accompany him to appointments and treatments, and to care for him after surgeries and treatments and during his time in home hospice care. He worked even less.
I don't get paid benefits as a freelance writer, but his family leave benefits — and disability benefits — were wonderful and literally kept us afloat. Without this paid time off and his disability checks, I'd be looking at a much different financial situation right now. And probably looking to sell my house for cash.
Family leave is essential, and not just to people caring for kids or elders. My husband was 47 when he died late last year. That's obviously not something we ever expected to happen. Financially we were fortunate. I know most other Washingtonians are nowhere near as lucky when a health crisis hits the family.
The hardest thing was worrying that despite his wonderful employer benefits, he'd lose his job from too much time off and we'd then lose our vital health insurance. (His medical bills last year were close to $1M.) I obviously would have liked to be paid for family leave too, but freelancers don't get benefits, so...
Like health insurance, having or not having paid family leave can mean the difference between solvency and serious debt or worse when a health crisis strikes a family.