Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityWashington begins best paid family and medical leave in country January 1 | KOMO
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Washington begins best paid family and medical leave in country January 1

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TACOMA, Wash. -- Washingtonians will be able to access one of the best paid family and medical leave programs in the country come January 1.

It provides paid time off when you need it most. Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program benefits workers who are dealing with an illness, need to care for a loved one, a new child and much more.

There are only five states in the nation that have similar programs.

Kate and her husband Quantas are preparing for one of life’s greatest joys.

“I’m expecting on Jan. 29 and we’re really excited,” said Kate Ginn, who plans to apply for the new program.

“We decided not wait to start our family knowing that paid leave was starting in Washington,” she added.

That’s because the Ginn’s are a one-income household while Quantas attends grad school.

Without the new state program, a baby would have had to wait.

“Just knowing that we would be secure, that I could take a full three months off work – it’s great,” Ginn said.

It was a game changer for the Tacoma couple.

The benefit is available to almost everyone. The program functions much like insurance and applies to all companies – no matter their size. Workers need to have worked for their employer for one year and accrued 1,250 hours for job protection.

The program won’t impact federal benefits.

“Using FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) does not diminish Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits,” said Clare DeLong, who is the communications manager for the Paid Family and Medical Leave program.

So employees can use both state and federal benefits.

Under Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave, employees are eligible to take up to 16 weeks off and possibly more in special cases. Employees will receive weekly pay that equals up to 90% of their regular salary. Payments are received from the state. The program is funded through small contributions that come from both employees and many employers.

For the Ginn’s, it’s a financial safety net that will allow them to transition to parenthood with peace of mind.

“Not have to rush to go back to work and really take that time that I need to bond with my child and recover from child birth, it has just made everything so much smoother and less stressful for us,” Ginn said.

Applications will be accepted starting January 1, 2020.

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