This modest safety net is long overdue

Business lobbyists continue to attack the family leave bill moving through our Legislature as a job killer, but it’s time for the lobbyists to acknowledge what many business owners are saying: Family leave insurance will be good for families, businesses and communities.

Family leave insurance provides a modest safety net when a new baby is born or when a family member is seriously ill. At $250 a week, less than minimum wage, no one is going to stay out of work longer than necessary. But those few weeks are significant for the health and well being of children or elderly parents, and that small amount of income can make all the difference in a family budget.

Paid family leave is insurance for those rare times when workers must be with their family. That’s why more than 20 organizations representing children, the elderly, people with disabilities, doctors, nurses, labor and the religious community have endorsed this plan. Five states have provided paid maternity leave for all women workers through disability programs for 30 years. Among them, California has recently added leave for all new parents and workers caring for ill family members. Clearly, with the fifth largest economy in the world, paid leave has not hurt California business.

Legislative sponsors have made significant changes to the original bills to address concerns raised by business lobbyists. If we are serious about strengthening families, now is time to pass family leave insurance. It is long overdue.

Marilyn Watkins, Chair

Washington Family Leave Coalition

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