Washington Business Fall 2017 | Legislative Review & Vote Record - Page 16

2017 legislative review Paid Leave Law Balances Employer, Employee Needs Passed with strong bipartisan support, Washington’s new paid family and medical leave law is the result of months of negotiations between employers, labor and lawmakers. Bobbi Cussins At A Glance Senate Bill 5975 was negotiated by business, labor and a bipartisan group of legislators in the House and Senate. Senate Bill 5975 passed June 30 by a vote of 65-29 in the House and 37-12 in the Senate. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required to participate or pay into the plan, but their employees pay into the program and are covered. Employers of any size with an equal or better paid leave benefit can apply for a waiver to opt out of the program. Employers and employees will begin paying into the program Jan. 1, 2019. The paid family and medical leave benefit will be available to employees beginning in 2020. The new law is uniform throughout the state, ending the confusion created when leave laws vary from city to city. Washington state is the fifth state to provide this benefit. 14 association of washington business On July 5, Gov. Jay Inslee put his signature on Senate Bill 5975, creating a statewide paid family and medical leave law. The new law provides workers with paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child, or a serious medical condition by the worker or worker’s family members. AWB Government Affairs Director Bob Battles and dozens of member companies of all sizes negotiated the legislation over several months, reaching an agreement that gives small-business owners relief and employees of all Washington companies the financial security they need to tend to family or medical issues. Complex policies that impact employees and their employers are best worked out at the legislative level. That was the conclusion lawmakers, business and labor leaders made this year as they worked together to — Bob Battles, AWB government affairs director reach agreement on a state- wide, uniform paid family and medical leave law after several years of debate on the policy. AWB, led by Government Affairs Director Bob Battles, facilitated member-driven meetings and legislative and stakeholder negotiations over several months. The result was bipartisan agreement on a paid leave law that protects small-business owners and gives workers income security in their times of need. The legislation, Senate Bill 5975, was sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, who worked alongside Sen. Karen Kaiser, D-Kent, and a host of other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, and from both chambers, including Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Golden- dale, and Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg. “When you’re dealing with a policy that affects people’s lives, everyone needs to come to the table, share their views and be willing to find compromise.” in brief: the paid family and medical leave law The paid family leave law allows workers to take 12 to 16 weeks of leave using disability definitions under the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA). That includes: birth or