In 2019 Washington takes a huge stride to ensure families may legally take leave without the fear of economic distress. The passage of Senate Bill 5975 provides families with up to 16 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child or for a serious medical condition of an employee or an employee’s family member.

The passage of this bill is a recognition of the changing workforce and economy in which very few families are capable of surviving on a single income. Dual bread-winning families leave little wiggle room when a new child is welcomed or when illness strikes. Thus, employers must change to provide coverage to enable an employee to take time off for caregiving purposes without risking their financial stability. The recognition of a legal means to accomplish paid leave is a nod to the changing face of our state and the needs of our employees.

The bill carefully balances the needs of working families and businesses, particularly small business, to provide a supportive leave policy with as little potential harm to small businesses as possible. The requirement of working 820 hours prior to being eligible for paid time off creates a sense of security for the employee and the business. In addressing the needs of employer’s, the Legislature carefully recognized the potential disruption to small business by adding provisions for grant assistance for employers with fewer than 150 employees. Grant provisions vary but offer the employer reimbursement for the cost of retaining a temporary worker.

By no means perfect, the bill leaves uncovered those who face an unexpected issue at the beginning of a new job. The legislature also, as of yet, fails to recognize the growing crisis in lack of childcare options for working families. However, Senate Bill 5975 is a massive step in the direction of ensuring a balance between employers and employees and creating a healthy, stable workplace for all.

Employers may be reluctant to implement this new policy or uneducated as to its provisions. Many questions may arise as the requirements take place. Seattle Litigation Group is well versed in the components of the new legal requirements and able to guide clients through its provisions and determine applicability.

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