Welcoming a new child, fighting cancer, caring for an aging parent – a handful of times in life, we all need to take significant time off work to care for ourselves or our families.
But too many Washington workers face an impossible choice: return to work, sacrificing family health and well-being – or give up economic security.
Several states have successfully responded to this problem by creating Family and Medical Leave Insurance. Taking the best from those programs, Washington’s Work & Family Coalition has worked with state policy makers to craft a proposal for our state. Our FaMLI Act, HB 1273, passed out of the House Labor Committee in 2015 after a successful hearing. The Senate did not hear or move the companion bill, SB 5459. Both are eligible for consideration during the 60-day 2016 session that begins January 11.
By partially replacing lost wages when it really counts, FMLI benefits:
Children: With nearly 9 in 10 parents in the workforce, FMLI helps strengthen family bonds, increase the duration of breastfeeding, and improve children’s health and social development.
School readiness: A child’s first and best teacher is his or her parent. FMLI is step one of any comprehensive early learning system, and is essential to every child’s educational success.
Seniors: FMLI makes it easier for adult children to care for their aging parents, instead of relying on an expensive nursing home.
Businesses: Greater family economic security means more customers for local businesses. Plus, paid leave boosts worker retention, morale, and productivity, which increases customer satisfaction – and profits.
Women: The gender wage gap widens with age, especially during child-bearing and sandwich generation years, creating lifelong economic insecurity for women even in retirement. FMLI helps expand work opportunities and level the playing field.
Workers: As Washington’s workforce ages, more spouses – and workers themselves – are at risk of developing serious health problems. FMLI allows people to get the care they need then return to work.
Washington: FMLI improves worker health and frees up public funds by helping families avoid public assistance, promoting family care for seniors instead of more expensive facilities, and giving all kids a strong and healthy start in life.