Ingird McDonald: How paid sick leave improves care for aging parents

Testimony from Ingrid McDonald, AARP Advocacy Director

In Support of Paid Sick Leave (SB 6229 / HB 2508)

  • AARP supports SB 6229 / HB 2508 to establish paid sick leave because we think it is sound public policy and because it will help family caregivers struggling to balance their work and caregiving duties.
  • This bill allows for paid sick or safe time for employees tending to the health needs of a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law or grandparent. This is critical for family caregivers, people who are caring for a loved one who due to age or disability need support from friends and family in order to remain safely in their own home.
  • Informal caregiving is the backbone of our long-term care system. It’s unpaid family members– not paid home care workers or paid family members – who are providing the vast majority of long term care.
  • I am sharing with the committee a recent AARP that found that the average unpaid family caregiver is a 49 year old woman who is still working and who also spends 20 hours per week providing unpaid care to her mother for nearly five years.
  • These caregivers need the flexibility to respond in a crisis – when for example a parent falls and needs to be taken to the hospital. And they need the security of knowing that doing so will not cause them to lose needed income or jeopardize their employment status.
  • The AARP report I passed out estimates that in Washington state we have approximately 845,000 caregivers who provide care totaling an estimated value of more than $10 billion per year.
  • The unpaid work they provide delays or prevents their loved one’s need for costly nursing home care and other Medicaid funded home and community based supports paid for by the state.
  • As our society ages, more and more workers will be doing double duty as caregivers for loved ones. Supporting these workers so that they can keep their jobs and fuel the economy, while also having the flexibility to care for their loved ones is a compassionate social policy that makes good economic sense.
  • For these reasons and more, AARP strongly supports SB 6229 / HB 2508
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