The GSBA Blog


Paid Family Leave is coming to WA

| Mar 01, 2017
Paid family leave is coming to Washington!

What precisely that will look like is still under negotiation. There were multiple proposals in the Legislature this year, although none of them made it out whole. The final product will be the result of negotiations between the caucuses in Olympia. There is also discussion from Seattle Councilmember Lorena González about establishing a Seattle-specific policy should the statewide policy not succeed.

The United States is one of only eight countries in the world without a national paid family leave policy. Only 14% of the US workforce is covered by a paid family leave plan. The Family and Medical Leave Act provides 12 weeks of job protection - but not pay - for some employees of companies with more than 50 employees.

What is paid family leave (PFL) in Washington?
While policies vary greatly across the United States, there have been several constants across all the proposals in Washington this year. They have included paid leave for qualifying circumstances such as: a new child, the serious illness of a family member, and exigency for military leave.

How is PFL funded?
Proposals in Washington all have the program funded as a payroll tax administered by the Washington Employment Security Department. Proposals differed in whether the tax would be payed by the employees themselves or by a joint 50-50 contribution from both employees and employers. This tax would be pooled together for all workers in the state to access

What are the proposed benefit levels of PFL?
Proposals in Washington have varied in the amount of leave provided from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Other jurisdictions have offered 4 weeks (Rhode Island), 6 weeks (California, New Jersey, San Francisco), 8 weeks (DC), and 12 weeks (New York State). The percentage of pay recieved while on leave varies across the country from 45% to 70%, while proposals in Washington range from 67% to 90% of average weekly wages, with additional provisions for those employees with incomes below statewide average weekly income.

Are the jobs of employees on leave protected?
All Washington proposals include provisions for protecting the jobs of those employees whose paid family leave. Some proposals included exemptions for businesses with 8 or fewer employees.

More Information
Economic Opportunity Institute
National Conference of State Legislatures - Reports on Paid Family Leave
Spokane Public Radio: Family leave proposals get hearing in Washington Senate
Q13 FOX - New bill fights for 6 months of paid leave
Trish Stroman: Paid Family Leave Doesn't Just Benefit Employees