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King County Considering Expansion Of Paid Parental Leave For Its Employees

Bridget Coila via Creative Commons

Bonding with a new baby could soon become less financially stressful for King County's more than 14,000 employees.

The county is considering an expansion of its paid parental leave program – allowing its employees up to 12 weeks away from the office after the birth or adoption of a child. 

Right now, new parents who work for King County can cobble together paid leave from accrued sick pay and vacation time to be with their babies.

“But not all employees have enough to take a significant amount of time off with that new baby,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. He’s backing a proposal that would ensure that every new parent could take three months off with pay.

He says under the plan, they would ask employees to use all but a week of their accrued leave, then the county would make up the difference.

Constantine says that’s in line with what increasing numbers of employers in the region are offering.  And it’s in line with the “Best Starts for Kids” levy that voters just approved, in support of early childhood development.

The estimated cost would be $2.9 million for the first year. That's considering an estimated 241 employees or about 2 percent of the workforce are expected to take advantage of the program in that time.

“We think this is a relatively modest investment in something that is good for kids and families, good for us as an employer looking to hire folks, and good for morale in the workplace and for productivity,” Constantine said. 

The proposal is expected to be back in committee on Tuesday. If approved by the full King County Council by the end of the month, it could go into effect in January for the first pilot year.  

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to