Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) released the following statement as Washington state readies to fully implement paid family and medical leave:
“This coming January, Washington state will begin paying benefits through the strongest paid family and medical leave program in the country.
“The program offers 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave per year. That means new mothers and fathers will now be able to stay with their infants in those first precious days. It means grandparents will be able to lean on their adult children in times of sickness. It strengthens families and makes our communities more resilient.
“When the Legislature approved the groundbreaking program in 2017, we incurred a responsibility to see it implemented without hitch, on time, and on budget.
“Two years later, that implementation has been a rousing success.
“When the bill was passed, the Legislature lent the Employment Security Department $82 million to set up the program before premiums could cover its operating costs. That loan was repaid in full, with interest, on June 28—three days ahead of schedule.
“ESD exceeded all expectations for a program implementation of this size. Their team built an agile technology system, worked with their advisory committee to develop implementation rules, and coordinated outreach and education to more than 240,000 employers across the state.
“They have done a terrific job. We can now rest assured that benefits will be available on schedule this January. For those who have friends thinking of having children, you can tell them with confidence — it’s ok to get pregnant now.”