[Washington] ‘Paid Family And Medical Leave’ Program Launches

The new ‘Paid Family and Medical Leave’ program - referred to by the Employment Security Department as the most robust in the country - has been rolled out in the state of Washington, KXLY.com reports.

The majority of workers in the state may be entitled to as many as 12 weeks off to care for family members, newborn children, or attend to any medical emergencies, under the program which covers full-time and part-time workers. In some circumstances, a period above 16 to 18 weeks of paid leave can be negotiated.

Applications for the program need to be filed with the Employment Security Department (ESD). (Link via original reporting)

Suzi LeVine - ESD Commissioner - said, “For the first time in this state, millions of workers will have access to paid leave when they need it most.”

“Whether it is caring for a spouse receiving cancer treatment, recovering from surgery or welcoming a new child into the family, this program will have a profound and positive impact on the state of well-being for the state of Washington.”

To meet eligibility criteria employees must work 820 hours over the year - approximately - 16 hours per week and undergo a qualifying event. The program is funded by a premium.

When a worker takes paid leave, they will be given a partial wage replacement based on income, which covers up to 90 per cent of their usual wage. The paid leave need not all be taken at once. Under the program, a worker could, for example, take a single day off to look after a relative instead of the whole 12-week period at once.

The Employment Security Department reportedly said that the rates of wage replacement under Washington’s program number among the highest in the country, with one of the highest totals of paid leave weeks available.

“A paycheck is essential, but time to care for yourself and your family is irreplaceable,” Ms LeVine said, “Paid Family and Medical Leave means Washingtonians won’t have to choose between the two, and employers won’t have to lose workers when life happens.”

Additional information is available from the Paid Leave website, along with information for employers. (Links via original reporting)