Washington state is joining California and a handful of other states in making progress on paid family leave, with the roll out of a new program that will provide up to 16 weeks of paid leave for new parents.
Starting Jan. 1, 2020 workers in the state of Washington will be eligible to take 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with and care for a new baby, while couples will be able to take a combined leave of up to 16 weeks. Those who face pregnancy complications, as defined by a doctor, will be able to take up to 18 weeks. The benefits will be available through the state’s newly implemented Paid Family and Medical Leave program.
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Since the start of the year workers and some employers have begun contributing payroll premiums to the statewide insurance pool that will fund the program. The average worker will pay just $2 per week towards the fund. Anyone who has worked at least 820 hours with one or multiple employers in the past year, including public, hourly, salaried and part-time employees, is eligible to receive Paid Family and Medical Leave. Those who are self-employed will also be able to opt-in. The benefit paid out will be a percentage of an individual’s regular wages with a cap of $1,000 per week.
Just last month new Governor of California, Gavin Newsom proposed a similar program to offer up to six months paid leave. With more states recognizing the need and benefits of paid family leave hopefully the rest of the country will soon follow suit.