One June 30th, the Washington State Legislature passed paid family leave, and it was signed into law by Governor Inslee on July 5th! Here are the details:
- Workers will be able to access paid family leave of up to 12 weeks to bond after the birth or placement of a child or to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- Workers will also be able to access paid medical leave of up to 12 weeks for an employee's serious health condition.
- Combined leave is limited to 16 weeks in a year, plus an additional two weeks if there are pregnancy complications, for a possible total of 18 weeks.
- Everybody who works a minimum number of hours will be eligible for paid leave, regardless of how large or small your employer is. If you work as an independent contractor you can buy in to the plan too.
- Benefits will be paid at a percentage of your weekly wage, up to $1000/week.
- Since the benefit would be provided through a state insurance program similar to unemployment and everyone is covered, the cost is fairly low (about 6 cents per hour for a worker paid $15/hour).
Paid family leave is a major bright spot in a state legislative session that didn’t have a lot of other positive developments — and it only happened because we all made it happen.
Working Washington members and many others testified before the State Legislature about the need for paid family leave. Dozens of you shared your personal stories online to help make the case. Baristas spoke out, took action, and generated a flood of local and even national news coverage about the issue. Thousands of people across the state sent messages to elected officials.
Workers speaking out is how we set the stage for legislators to reach agreement. It’s how we raised the minimum wage and passed secure scheduling. And it’s how we just won paid family leave too.
Thanks for making it happen — and then consider making a contribution to power the next big breakthrough for workers in our state.
"I work in the fields. My husband has cancer, and we’ve been out of work 11 months because I have to care for him. There are many poor families like us. Paid family leave is very important — our wages are low and we have to take care of our families."
— Margarita R., Selah
“I’m a public school teacher, and a parent of three. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to be with their children right after they are born. Families are strengthened when given the time to properly care for one another.”
— Laura L., teacher, Bothell
"With my first child, I had to start working from home 10 days after giving birth. When I returned to working onsite, I cried in the car every day. It was almost physically painful to be separated from my baby. Investing in our moms and babies now will benefit everyone in the long run."
—Deja H., Seattle
“I work full-time as a warehouseman, and I don’t have any paid family leave at all. The idea of even starting a family — you know, what people do and have done for millennia — is a foreign one to me because it means being an absentee father, having to work a tyrannical amount to make it happen. There's no reason the richest country in the world can't make paid family leave happen except for greed.”
— Chris M., warehouseman, Seattle
“I had to leave a new job that I only had a couple of months because I could not find adequate daycare for my newborn son. Paid family leave is essential. Life is full of unexpected moments. Everyone needs that backup plan to sort it out, regain balance, and get back to business.”
— Tina K., Lake Stevens
“Many years ago, my step daughter got badly injured when the rope she and a friend were playing with got caught by a passing truck. Because it could have cost me my job to leave early, my wife elected to not tell me about it until my shift ended. My continued employment required 100% attendance. The employer didn't care or want to hear about it, and told me to just get back to work and not bother them with personal issues.”
— Mark P., former tech support worker, Tacoma