Unwrapping Paid Leave for 2020

After these holidays, Washingtonians get the gift of time

When my father was in his last months of his life, I waited until the very last few week to ask my employer for time off to spend time with him and assist my mother with the endless decisions and tasks. Not to mention letting her have some needed rest.  I waited to the very end because I didn’t want to miss out on salary, as I was afraid of not having enough money to cover my bills.

If I had had 12 weeks of paid leave to spend time with my father, I would have said so much more, would have had my 3-year-old spend more time with him (because he always brought a smile to my father’s face) and I would have probably brought my dad home earlier. Instead, he spend most of his ill time at the hospital because we didn’t have the capacity to care for him at home.

Whether or not they get paid time off to be with their families this holiday season, workers will get a huge gift after it — paid time off to heal and be with loved ones when they need it most.

Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program starts January 2, guaranteeing workers paid leave to recover from serious illnesses, to bring a new child into the family, or to care for an ill family member. Paid leave translates into precious time to care, express compassion, heal and bond during the big events in family life.

Things are about to change with Washington’s new paid leave policy.

The gift of time for a new child

The gift of time for nurturing a new child – whether a foster or adopted child or newborn – is priceless. It will go a long way towards assuring the health and wellbeing of the child and their ability to connect and build strong relationships with others. All parents can take up to 12 weeks, and birth mothers can add medical leave to recover from childbirth or deal with pregnancy complications, totaling 16 or up to 18 weeks off, depending on circumstances.

The gift of time for caring for a seriously ill family member

The gift of time to spend with an elderly parent during the last stages of their life allows for saying goodbye, I love yous, and getting closure on family matters. It also enables arranging appropriate care and making end-of-life decisions. Paid family leave will ease the difficult moments, allowing people to spend time with a seriously ill loved one without worrying about paying their bills.

The gift of time for a family member’s military service

The gift of time when a loved one is called up for military deployment allows family members to manage the chaos during deployment, whether it is making new living arrangements, finding childcare, or taking some R&R to spend quality time with a spouse or child. Paid family leave prevents family crises and keeps families together.

The gift of time to heal from serious illnesses

The time to heal from surgery, chemotherapy or a bad car accident without stressing about paying the bills means better health and fewer relapses. Medical leave will go a long way towards allowing people to treat illnesses early and getting them back to work and all their other activities.

The gift of time will bring much needed peace, joy and some financial stability for many families in Washington State. 

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