Zillow expands its family leave policy

KIRO TV interviewed Marilyn Watkins from the Economic Opportunity Institute about local tech companies expanding family leave benefits will catch on with lawmakers: “What I’m hopeful that will happen is that this will then encourage our state Legislature to act and move forward on adopting a paid family leave program that would cover everybody.” Yes indeed!

Watch it on KIRO: 


Paid family-leave proposal arrives with force before D.C. Council

working-dadDozens of supporters of a controversial proposal for the nation’s most generous family-leave law, including parents, small-business owners and union members, urged city lawmakers Tuesday to pass the measure supported by a majority of the D.C. Council.

“We’re here for all of the obvious reasons,” said Jamie Smith, of the Chevy Chase neighborhood, who had her 10-month-old son, Adam, bouncing on her lap at Tuesday’s council meeting at the Wilson Building. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

Seven of the council’s 13 members co-introduced the proposed law Tuesday that would give every D.C. resident as much as 16 weeks of paid family leave.

The measure, developed with the help of the Obama administration, would allow residents to take paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a terminally ill relative, or for just about any life-changing event in between.

The broad new benefit would be paid for by a tax on D.C. employers of up to 1 percent of employees’ salaries. Business leaders warned that could be hurtful and put them at a competitive disadvantage regionally, but D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) moved to streamline a review of the proposed law, keeping it before his committee and therefore one step from a councilwide vote.

Full story: Washington Post »

Survey: Half Of Food Workers Go To Work Sick Because They Have To

Flu season is here. And when the flu strikes, the luckier victims may call in sick without getting punished or losing pay.

But many American workers, including those who handle our food, aren’t so fortunate.

Fifty-one percent of food workers — who do everything from grow and process food to cook and serve it — said they “always” or “frequently” go to work when they’re sick, according to the results of a survey released Monday. An additional 38 percent said they go to work sick “sometimes.”

That’s a practice that can have serious public health consequences. For instance, as The Salt reported last year, the vast majority of reported cases of norovirus — theleading cause of foodborne disease outbreaks and illnesses across the country — have been linked to infected food industry workers.

But it’s not as if these sick food workers are careless. Nine out of 10 workers polled in the new survey said they feel responsible for the safety and well-being of their customers. Yet about 45 percent said they go to work sick because they “can’t afford to lose pay.” And about 46 percent said they do it because they “don’t want to let co-workers down.”

Full story via National Public Radio »


Port of Seattle passes paid parental leave for employees

port of seattle photoThe Port of Seattle Commission has approved a motion to provide four weeks of paid parental leave for non-represented employees during the 12 months following the birth, adoption, or placement of a foster child in the employee’s home – effective Jan. 1, 2016.

“This action ensures that every Port employee will have dedicated paid leave to recover from birth and/or bond with a new child,” said Port of Seattle Commission Co-President Courtney Gregoire. “We recognize those first days and weeks are important to the health of all the members of the family. Not only will paid family leave help the port attract and retain quality employees, it establishes a policy fundamental to supporting more women in the workforce.”

The proposed parental leave plan will offer four weeks of paid time off to both men and women. City Councilmember Jean Godden testified in favor of the motion and the positive impact it has had since the City of Seattle implemented a similar program this spring. King County is also expected to begin a paid parental leave program in the coming months.

Paid Family Leave Back on Drawing Board in Washington State

Paid family leave programs are linked to improved health outcomes for children and families. Credit: manuere/Morguefile

Paid family leave programs are linked to improved health outcomes for children and families. Credit: manuere/Morguefile

SEATTLE – The issue of paid family leave is coming into the forefront in Washington again.

The state is among eight recently selected for a federal grant to research the benefits of implementing a paid family and medical leave program. The $247,000 grant will allow Washington to put the paid leave program, adopted by the Legislature eight years ago, back on the drawing board.

Marilyn Watkins, policy director with the Economic Opportunity Institute, says a study will compare benefits vs. costs, and the impact on families and businesses.

“Another part of it will be to look at existing state programs and services and how a family and medical leave insurance program would interact with those and really allow them to work better,” says Watkins.

The Family Leave Insurance Act was approved in 2007 but tabled due to a lack of funding. Under federal and state law, workers are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of leave for pregnancy, newborn and medical care situations, but it is unpaid time.

Watkins says with paid family leave, the state can save on public assistance, child-care subsidies, and senior home care. And she adds research shows it boosts worker earnings, increases employee retention and improves health outcomes for children and families.

“We all understand how important it is that parents be able to stay home with their newborn children and really nurture and care for those new young lives, for mothers to recover their own health following childbirth and to really give the baby their best possible start in life,” says Watkins.

Funding the program will not be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, explains Watkins. She says
workers would contribute to a trust fund through a small payroll premium, and then draw from it when on family or medical leave.

“Employers are not having to foot the bill when people are out on extended leave and also the state isn’t footing the bill through other existing state revenues,” she says. “It’s a new source of revenue and makes it a completely self-funded program.”

California, Massachusetts and New Jersey are among states that have passed similar paid leave laws.

By Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service – WA

Attitudes Shift on Paid Leave: Dads Sue, Too

Dad and daughter.WASHINGTON — For decades, women who believed their employers had punished them with lower wages and missed promotions after they had become mothers have been filing gender discrimination complaints and bringing lawsuits.

Now, as men shoulder more responsibilities at home, they are increasingly taking legal action against employers that they say refuse to accommodate their roles as fathers.

“The huge thing that’s changed only in about the past five years is suddenly men feel entitled to take time off for family,” said Joan C. Williams of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. “They’re willing to put their careers on the line to live up to that idea. It’s revolutionary.”

Read more: New York Times »

Family, business, health advocates cheer Department of Labor award to Washington

mom with baby on couchPress release: WASHINGTON | Advocates for paid family and medical leave applauded the U.S. Department of Labor’s decision to award $247,000 to Washington state to study the economic impacts of implementing a paid family and medical leave program.

“The Washington Work and Family Coalition is excited by this news and what it could mean for the families of our state,” said Marilyn Watkins, policy director of the Economic Opportunity Institute. “I’ve gotten calls from pregnant women who don’t know how they’ll be able to afford more than a couple weeks off after giving birth, from people struggling to help an aging parent through a health crisis while going to work and tending to their own kids, from small business owners who would love to find a way to provide employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave – but just can’t do it on their own.”

For well over a decade, the Coalition – including a number of women’s, labor, senior, children’s, faith, small business, and health organizations – has advocated for paid family and medical leave.

“From a public health standpoint, the evidence for paid leave is overwhelming,” said Representative June Robinson, sponsor of House Bill 1273 to establish family and medical leave insurance (FMLI). “Babies are healthier for the long term when they are breast fed and their parents can stay home with them for the first several months. Adults are healthier and more productive when they have adequate leave to recover from their own serious health conditions or care for sick family members, without the stress of family financial crisis.”

House Bill 1273 and companion Senate Bill 5459 would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave to care for a new child or seriously ill family member, or for their own serious health condition. Benefits would be provided through a trust fund, financed through payroll premiums of about $65 per year for the state’s typical worker and their employer. In 2007, the Legislature passed a stripped down version of paid family leave that only provided 5 weeks for new parents and did not identify a funding source. Because of the recession, the program was postponed indefinitely rather than being implemented as intended in 2009.

Washington is one of eight states receiving Department of Labor grants.

“I think the research from this grant is just what we need to get family leave ‘unstuck’, and I applaud Governor Inslee’s leadership on this,” said Senator Karen Keiser, current sponsor of SB 5459 and prime sponsor of the 2007 bill. “Showing people just how much the state can save on public assistance, child care subsidies, and home care for seniors, along with how much more effective programs like home visiting can be will help some of legislators on both sides of the aisle understand the full benefits of family and medical leave insurance.“


About the Economic Opportunity Institute: www.eoionline.org

About the Washington Work and Family Coalition: www.waworkandfamily.org