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Washington Guarantees Paid Family and Medical Leave for Workers
Washington families experienced a win in July 2017 when state legislators passed a bipartisan paid family and medical leave bill.
The law, set to go into effect in 2020, provides eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of paid time off for the birth, fostering, or adoption of a child or to care for their own or a family member’s serious medical condition. Workers can take a combination of up to 16 weeks of paid leave in a year, plus another two for complicated pregnancies. Recognizing that low-income workers may not be able to take advantage of paid leave if only a fraction of their income is covered, Washington designed a progressive financing mechanism for the new program. Workers earning less than half of the state’s weekly average ($1,133 in 2016) will receive 90% of their income, up to $1,000 per week. The program will be funded through a combination of worker and employer contributions to a state-run insurance fund. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from paying the employer-share, though their employees’ contribution is the same. California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Oregon have also passed state paid family leave laws.
Updated September 2019
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