Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Your Family Care Rights in Washington State

Governor Locke signed the 2002 Family Care Act on March 29, 2002. This law will entitle employees in Washington State to use sick leave or other paid time off to care for an ill child or seriously ill family member. The legislation will go into effect on January 1, 2003

Q: What are your rights under the 2002 Family Care Bill?
A: Under the new law – which will go into effect on January 1, 2003 – employees in Washington State will be entitled to use their choice of sick leave or other paid time off to care for a child with a health condition that requires treatment or supervision, or to care for a spouse, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent who has a serious health condition or an emergency condition.
In using sick leave or other paid time off for family care, the employee will have to comply with the terms of their collective bargaining agreement or employer policy applicable to the leave (except for any terms relating to the choice of leave). For example, by giving proper notice.

Q: How does this legislation change family care policy?
A: This legislation updates Washington’s family care policy, which was put into place in 1988. Under current law, workers are allowed to use sick leave to care for an ill child under age 18. The 2002 Family Care law will expand family care coverage, allowing workers to also use their sick leave or other paid time off to attend to the health needs of a son or daughter 18 or over who is incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability, or for a spouse, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent with a serious health condition. The new law also prohibits an employer from discharging, demoting, or disciplining an employee for exercising their rights under this law.

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