Passage of Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill a ‘Monumental Victory for Working Families, for Washington, and for Our Nation’
July 1, 2017
OLYMPIA, WA -- The paid family and medical leave bill the Washington State legislature passed last night is a “model for the nation and a monumental victory for Washington families, small businesses, and our economy,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and executive director of MomsRising.org, a national online and on-the-ground organization of more than 40,000 members in Washington State and more than 1 million members across the country. “This bill makes Washington the first state without a prior temporary disability insurance system in place to build a paid family and medical leave program from scratch,” Rowe-Finkbeiner added. “The members of MomsRising have fought for more than a decade to advance this policy, which is a powerful blueprint for other states around the country to follow. Today, the moms, dads and people of Washington are celebrating!”
Once it becomes law 90 days after signing, SB 5975 will allow workers in Washington to take 12 weeks of family leave and 12 weeks of medical leave, with a maximum cap of 16 weeks of paid leave per year. In addition, the legislation provides for two more weeks of paid leave for women who experience maternity complications, offering much-needed relief to new moms who suffer difficult pregnancies. The legislation covers all workers in the state -- even self-employed individuals who can opt in to the program -- and includes a progressive wage replacement benefit that will allow low-wage workers to retain 100 percent of their wages during their leave.
“When this bill becomes law, Washingtonians will be able to take the time they need to bond with a new child, care for a sick family member, or recover from their own medical condition without sacrificing a paycheck,” said Maggie Humphreys, Washington MomsForce director for MomsRising.org. Humphreys was one of seven negotiators representing paid family and medical leave advocates at the bargaining table with legislators, the business community, labor groups and non-profit organizations.
“MomsRising members have fought for more than ten years to advance paid family and medical leave in Washington,” said Casey Osborn-Hinman, campaign director for MomsRising. “In 2016, we led a statewide, bipartisan listening tour that included members of the U.S. Congress, the Washington State legislature, local council members, numerous business leaders and representatives of more than 60 community agencies and organizations. Since January, our members all across the state have sent more than 35,000 emails to Washington State legislators, made hundreds of calls to their state legislators as well, attended town halls and other local meetings, placed letters-to-the-editor in local newspapers and more. MomsRising is proud to have brought the voices and stories of Washington’s families to the table. Our members’ unshakeable determination and tireless activism paid off with last night’s victory.”
“We’re heartened to see Washington take such a huge step to protect working families, businesses and our economy – but this also serves as yet another reminder that our country is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to paid leave,” Rowe-Finkbeiner said. “We need a national paid leave law like the FAMILY Act, which would provide a guaranteed amount of paid family and medical leave for all workers in our country, not just those who win the location or boss lottery.”
Governor Jay Inslee is expected to sign the bill into law. It will take effect 90 days after the current special session ends.
“We thank every legislator who voted for this bill, and our partners in the Washington Work and Family Coalition and the Early Learning Action Alliance who have led the charge for paid family and medical leave in our state. We urge other states, and our national leaders, to follow in Washington’s footsteps and make meaningful paid leave a reality for all workers,” Rowe-Finkbeiner concluded.