Federal family leave laws guarantee only unpaid time off, and nearly half of all workers don’t even qualify for that, risking the health of children and aging parents.
To tackle the problem, EOI brought together organizations representing seniors, women, labor, health professionals, children, faith communities, low income workers and employers – the Washington Work and Family Coalition – to update the state’s workplace standards to meet the needs of today’s families and businesses. Our successes include:
2002: The Family Care Act updates a 1988 law to allow workers to use most forms of paid leave to care for ill children, spouses, parents, parents-in-law and grandparents.
2006: The Washington Family and Medical Leave Act protects workers in the event federal law or rules change to limit their access to leave under the existing federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
2007: Washington Family Leave Insurance (FLI) passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Christine Gregoire would ensure Washington workers up to 5 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child. The program was to begin in 2009, but the legislature delayed approving financing and the Great Recession intervened, so implementation has been postponed.
2015-16: The FAMLI Act (HB 1273 and SB 5459), introduced in 2015 would have updated and fully funded the 2007 law, providing up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or the serious illness of the worker or family member, financed through modest payroll premiums. The House Labor and Workplace Standards committee passed the bill, but it did not move further.
2017: Washington State passes a family leave law which allows up to 16 weeks of paid family and medical leave, or 18 if it includes a pregnancy complication. Benefits will begin to be available in 2020.
Washington’s success in enacting modern workplace standards makes it a leader in the national movement for paid family leave and paid sick days, promoting healthier workers, families, workplaces and communities.