“The Washington legislature’s bipartisan passage Friday night of a bill that would create a paid family and medical leave program that will be available to all working people in the state for serious personal and family medical needs is welcome proof that progress is possible and, indeed, inevitable. When this bill becomes law and takes full effect in 2020, new moms in the state will no longer have to rush back to their jobs days after giving birth, adult children will no longer have to leave the bedsides of their seriously ill parents to go to work, and people will no longer have to forgo treatment for serious illnesses in order to avoid losing their savings and falling into poverty. More than a decade in the making, this is a truly groundbreaking victory for working families and a powerful model for the nation.
Washington’s program is unprecedented in several ways and checks all the boxes required of a real paid leave policy. It is a sustainable, responsible plan that will be affordable for employers and workers; accessible to all working people, including those who need a high level of wage replacement; and inclusive of all working people and many types of families. It will provide a substantial 12 weeks of leave for serious family health needs and 12 weeks for a serious personal medical issue, including pregnancy – capped at 16 weeks per year – with two additional weeks for pregnancy-related medical complications, and it will offer employment protections that build on current law. This tremendous victory was made possible because lawmakers, business leaders, advocates, labor groups and working people came together to develop a shared solution. And it is notable that it received strong bipartisan support from legislators. This is the kind of careful consideration, collaboration and commitment the country needs.
We commend the Washington Work and Family Coalition and leaders like MomsRising and the Economic Opportunity Institute for their unwavering dedication to securing a strong paid leave program for Washington’s working families. This long overdue victory paves the way for other states to take steps to address the nation’s paid leave crisis and sends a compelling message to Congress and the Trump administration that it is time to prioritize a real national solution like the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act. The FAMILY Act also checks all the boxes, and it has the support of businesses of all sizes and the majority of voters across party lines. We are in a historic moment of consensus around the need for action on paid leave, but not just any plan will do. Lawmakers should reject lesser, harmful alternatives and make enactment of the FAMILY Act a priority.”