If WA doesn’t require paid family leave, Seattle may try | KUOW News and Information

If WA doesn’t require paid family leave, Seattle may try

Mar 23, 2017

Some states have paid family leave. Not Washington, though.

That could change.

Republicans and Democrats are considering making it a requirement for all employers.

Why would Republicans agitate for such a bill now, after years of hearing lobbyists apply pressure about it?

“Well, I had a kid last year,” said Sen. Joe Fain, Republican from Auburn. “We’re exhausted.”

And that’s with family support, he said, which made him feel compassion for families without help.

Fain's bill would require all employers in Washington state to offer paid time off to new parents and those who need care for sick relatives.

King County and City of Seattle employees get 12 weeks of paid time off to welcome a new child at home. But private employers aren’t required to offer paid leave.

Read: Lesser known Washington state law doubles maternity leave to 24 weeks

Fain's bill starts out with eight weeks in 2020, with a weekly benefit of no more than $541, maxing out at 12 weeks in 2023. A competing Democratic bill calls for 26 weeks. They're in the process of negotiating now.

If passed, families could start drawing family leave in 2020.

The paid family leave plan would work similarly to the unemployment and Labor & Industries systems. Employers and employees would pay into a pool, which families would draw from.

The fund would not be part of the general fund, so it wouldn’t be in competition with school funding.

If the state doesn't mandate paid parental leave this year, Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González said she'll propose it locally. She said it's about making the city livable for families.

González: "The needs of Seattle workers are unique. We live in the most expensive city in the state. Approximately 50 percent of our city is between the ages of 18 and 39, which is prime birthing age."

González will propose a 26 week paid family leave policy for all employers, if the state does not pass a similar law.