Washington State Helps People Take Time Off Work

Paid family and medical leave is a lifeline for families who need to take time off work toPaid family and medical leave bond with a new child, for their own serious medical condition, or to care for family member with a serious medical condition, but are concerned about the loss of income. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but many employees who are eligible don’t take it, because they can’t afford the loss of income.

In July, Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, signed into law a paid family and medical leave benefit.

This law will begin on January 1, 2020, and will allow employees to take up to 12 weeks off of work for: their own serious medical condition or to care for family member with a serious medical condition; or to bond with a new child; or 16 weeks for a combination of both. If an employee has pregnancy complications, then the employee may be eligible for an additional two weeks of leave. Employees are eligible for up to 90% of their income, under this paid family leave benefit.

An individual must work 820 hours before qualifying to take the leave. Both employers and employees will pay into a fund to cover the cost of leave for employees. Employers with less than 50 employees are exempt from paying into the system. Self-employed individuals are eligible if they pay the employee share into the system.

Washington is one of 6 states that offer paid family leave for caregivers. Washington had passed a law in 2007, but was never funded, so it never went into effect.

Here is a brief overview of what other states offer for caregivers:


  • Began: 2004
  • Paid by: employee
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Benefit: 55-70% of income

New Jersey

  • Began: 2009
  • Paid by: employer-employee
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Benefit: 66% of income

Rhode Island

  • Began: 2014
  • Paid by: employee
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Benefit: 60% of income

New York

  • Begins: 2018-2020
  • Paid by: employer-employee
  • Length: 8-12 weeks
  • Benefit: 50% of income

Washington, D.C.

  • Begins: July 2020
  • Paid by: employer
  • Length: 8 weeks
  • Benefit: 90% of income

Cities have also been working to offer paid leave programs. For example, in San Francisco, the County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved full pay during family leave.

It is important to note that each state has a different definition of which family members you can care for and be eligible for paid family leave.

5 states (CA, NY, NJ, RI, HI) and Puerto Rico also offer state disability insurance benefits for employees who need to take time off for their own medical condition.

For information on what might be available to you in your city or state, visit our website to see resources and our chart of state laws.

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