Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Paid Family and Medical Leave is Here!

People whose leaves have already begun can receive benefits retroactively

Washington’s Paid Family & Medical Leave program is open for business! You can apply here – and learn how to prepare for future leaves or how to support your employees or coworkers needing leave.

Paid leave is available to welcome a new child, care for seriously ill family members, recover from your own serious health condition, and in support of a family member’s military deployment.

Washington is just the fifth state to launch a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program, and is the first to build a system from the ground up. While creating the technology, training staff, and doing all the other background work in time was a challenge, Washington’s Employment Security Department staff reached the finish line ahead of schedule and began accepting applications a few days early, on Monday, December 30.

People whose leaves have already begun can still apply and receive benefits retroactively to January 1, 2020.

Washington’s program was adopted in 2017, after nearly two decades of advocacy by the Work & Family Coalition and bipartisan negotiations that included representatives of business, labor, and community organizations. Legislators heard from dozens of individual workers and small business owners who shared experiences of struggling to pay bills while they cared for a newborn or dying parent, or to heal themselves from cancer or a serious accident.

Over the past 15 years, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York have added family leave to temporary disability insurance programs which dated back to the 1940s. The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Oregon are currently implementing programs similar to Washington’s.

Gov. Jay Inslee signing paid family and medical leave into law in 2017.

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