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Washington state workers can now receive paid family and medical leave benefits

Justin Steyer
Washington workers get 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a newborn or care for a seriously ill family member.

Workers in Washington have been paying into the state's Family and Medical Leave fund through payroll deductions for the past year. Now, beginning Jan. 2, 2020,they'll be able to use the benefits.

Employees in Washington state who qualify will be able to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave to stay home with a newborn or a foster or adopted child. They'll also be able to receive paid leave or to care for a spouse, domestic partner or family member with a serious illness.  And the law lets workers receive paid time off to be with a family member who's active duty military and is home from a deployment overseas.

Washington's law is among the most generous  in the country. Workers receive 90 percent of their pay up to $1,000 a week.  Federal law has long required that workers be allowed to take 12 weeks of family and medical leave, but there's no requirement that it be paid. Washington joins a handful of states, including California and New York, now offering paid leave.   


Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.