Senate vote could mean end of paid family leave law

By | April 22, 2013 | Comments

If lawmakers can’t find a way to pay for it, a program giving parents five weeks paid time off to be with a new child will be eliminated under a measure passed Monday in the Senate.

Washington’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act was adopted in 2007 and gives new parents paid leave of up to $250 a week for five weeks. The program was slated to start in 2009, but a lack of funding has delayed the implementation date twice.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia), said the program was a good idea, but without funding it’s an “empty promise.”

The measure was amended to include the creation of a task force to find a funding solution for the program. If a source isn’t found, parents would still be eligible for five weeks of unpaid leave. The author of the amendment, Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), said he plans to introduce a bill that will provide funding.

Under federal law, businesses with 50 or more employees are required to give workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical leave or to take care of a new child.

The measure passed on a 27 to 21 vote. It now head to the Democratic-controlled House.

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