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Wash. Lawmakers Introduce Paid Family and Medical Leave Bills

Bills have been introduced in the Washington state House and Senate that would give workers paid family and medical leave. (Pexels/Pixabay)
Bills have been introduced in the Washington state House and Senate that would give workers paid family and medical leave. (Pexels/Pixabay)
January 11, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Bills have been introduced in both the Washington state House and Senate to give new parents and those who are sick or caring for a loved one paid time off from work. A coalition of legislators, business owners, parents and advocates announced the proposal to bring paid family and medical leave to the state in Olympia on Tuesday.

State Rep. June Robinson of Everett, sponsor of House Bill 1116, says paid leave has advantages, both for employers and employees.

"People are willing to stay at a job if they know that there is the possibility of paid family leave," she said. "It's a way to protect workers and their families, which just makes for a better employment situation for everyone."

If the bill passes, employees would have 26 weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn or newly-adopted baby or an ill family member, starting in 2019. In 2020, employees could take up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave to tend to their own health conditions. The program would be funded through a payroll deduction, costing employers and workers about $2 a week.

A poll last year showed more than 70 percent of Washingtonians supported paid family and medical leave. Robinson, a Democrat, says although the bill might change a bit, there is support for this type of legislation across the aisle as well.

"I certainly think there's bipartisan support for paid family leave, and we will work to get bipartisan support as the bill works its way through the Legislature," she added.

State Sen. Karen Keiser is supporting the companion bill, Senate Bill 5032.

Three states currently have paid family and medical leave laws on the books: California, New Jersey and Rhode Island. New York will join them in 2018.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA