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Washington’s new paid family and medical leave policy makes me proud of my state. It’s not just the groundbreaking policy, which fills a need for every worker in Washington. It’s also the way our state government worked together to hammer out a paid-leave bill that people across the political spectrum wanted to support.
The United States is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee workers any form of paid leave. In fact, many women don’t even get a paid day off to have a child.
But starting in 2020, Washington’s workers will be able to take up to 16 weeks paid leave, which gives them the time they need to tend to their loved ones. The wage replacement, up to $1,000 a week, means people will be able to support themselves while taking advantage of the policy.
The eligibility criteria are flexible: new parents, people caring for a sick relative and people fighting a severe illness are covered.
Finally, the way the paid leave is funded is sensible and fair. Employees and employers share the costs, and small-business owners receive extra support so they don’t struggle when an employee needs to take leave.
But just as important as the policy itself is the way Washington arrived at it. The bill was passed with strong bipartisan support, including sponsors from both parties. A Democratic governor, a Republican Senate and a Democratic House rallied around the law.
Read the rest of this commentary by Melinda Gates at The Seattle Times