Washington House committee considers paid family leave bill

A day after a Washington Senate committee approved a measure to repeal an as-of-yet unfunded law giving parents five weeks of paid time off to be with a new child, a House committee on Tuesday heard arguments on why that same program should be expanded.

Paid family leave was approved by the Legislature in 2007, and was supposed to start paying benefits of up to $250 a week starting in October 2009. But without an agreed-upon funding source, Washington lawmakers have postponed its implementation twice.

The House Committee on Labor & Workforce Development on Tuesday held a public hearing on the bill that would expand the underlying measure to include caring for a family member or an employee’s own disability. The bill would expand the weekly benefit from a flat rate to a percentage of the employee’s wages, up to $1,000 per week.  The measure also would expand the time allowed from five weeks to 12 weeks.

A similar companion bill has been introduced in the Senate, but the committee that it has been referred to approved a bill on Monday that would repeal the underlying law.

A repeal of the state paid-leave law would have no impact on federal leave laws. The state law requires the paid leave be taken concurrently with the federal leave.  (AP)

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