Washington Now Has Most Generous Paid Family and Medical Leave Program in the US

Bonnie Johnson - Sunday, January 05, 2020
Washington Now Has Most Generous Paid Family and Medical Leave Program in the US

From the Employment Security Department of Washington State: Washington now has the most generous Paid Family and Medical Leave Program in the United States.

Nearly all workers in WA may be able to take up to 12 weeks to care for themselves or a family member for serious illness or injury, childbirth or even for limited service-connected events for military families, such as preparing as a family for a member of the armed forces to deploy. In some circumstances, up to 18 weeks can be allotted. It is funded by a premium that is shared by both workers and employers.

From the ESD press release: “For the first time in this state, millions of workers will have access to paid leave when they need it most,” said the Employment Security Department Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “Whether it is caring for a spouse receiving cancer treatment, recovering from surgery or welcoming a new child into the family, this program will have a profound and positive impact on the state of wellbeing for the state of Washington.”

When a worker goes on leave, they receive partial wage replacement benefit, the value of which is based on income and could potentially cover up to 90% of your standard paycheck. To be eligible, an employee must work 820 hours throughout the course approximately a year combined with experiencing a qualifying event. 820 hours is only about 16 hours a week.

The program is considered groundbreaking in that it was developed to be beneficial equally for employees and their employers. See below for more information from the website, how you can learn about the program and access tools on their website:

“Small business owners are exempt from paying the employer portion of the premium but collect their employees’ portion so they are still fully covered by the program. There are also grants available to businesses of up to 150 employees to offset the cost of a worker being out on leave, including grants to hire a temporary replacement or to cover training or overtime related to an employee being out on Paid Family and Medical Leave.

“Leave does not have to be taken all at once, for example a worker could take one day a week to care for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease. The definition of a family member is broad, covering siblings and grandparents as well as grandchildren, step and foster children.

“A paycheck is essential, but time to care for yourself and your family is irreplaceable,” LeVine said. “Paid Family and Medical Leave means Washingtonians won’t have to choose between the two, and employers won’t have to lose workers when life happens.”

“The program’s website, paidleave.wa.gov, has information to learn more about the program as well as resources to help Washingtonians apply for Paid Family and Medical Leave. There are tools to evaluate eligibility, estimate your weekly pay and to step through a checklist to get ready to apply. Tools and information for employers can be found on the employer page of the website.”


Attribution for this article goes to the Employment Security Department of Washington State, as well as the image. 





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