Today, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce hailed the passage of bipartisan legislation on statewide family leave. The legislation will allow employees 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or an ailing family member.
“Today is a victory for families, businesses, and the economic vitality of our region,” said Chamber president and CEO Maud Daudon. “The Chamber worked closely with legislators in both parties and stakeholders across the region to craft a solution that strengthens working families and balances the needs of small businesses and other employers."
Last year, the Chamber’s member-led task force on gender and workforce equity issues developed a set of principles to guide the organization’s advocacy on statewide family leave policy. The principles, which were unanimously approved by the Chamber’s Board of Trustees in January, hold that any statewide paid family leave policy should:
- Encompass all jurisdictions statewide to ensure equal, consistent, and clear standards and benefits across the state;
- Efficiently complement existing labor laws and definitions in Washington state and under FMLA, while also reflecting successful paid family leave models in other states;
- Be financially self-sustaining (including both the benefit and its administration), as has been demonstrated in other successful statewide programs;
- Reasonably accommodate small businesses;
- Preserve the ability of employers to provide additional benefits beyond the legislated benefit.
In January, the Chamber gave testimony before the state Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Labor, and Sports in support of many of the features included in the legislation announced today, including reasonable accommodations for small businesses.
Key features of the legislation include:
- 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or an ailing family member, or for oneself in the event of a serious illness;
- A statewide program for a clear and consistent standard for all of Washington’s employees and employers;
- Balanced funding among employees and employers, built upon successful statewide models elsewhere; and
- Measures to support small- and mid-sized businesses on the issues of job protection, program funding, training and rehiring costs.
The Seattle Metro Chamber supports this framework, and is pleased at the collaborative efforts of so many legislators, stakeholders, and members who have remained actively engaged on this issue throughout the year.
Paid family leave is one of the best practices put forth by the Chamber’s gender equity initiative, 100% Talent, a five-year effort aimed at creating a more inclusive economy and a vibrant King County for all.