Paid Maternity Leave on the State’s Chopping Block
Washington reveres itself on it’s family friendly nature, and generally speaking we deserve it. In 2007 the Washington State Legislature passed a bill allowing a 5 week paid time off for new parents (Based on everything I learned from TV show, The Office, it is not a vacation).
The funding source for the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act is still yet to find a funding source in Washington, yet some legislators are fast at the throat of the act claiming “We don’t have the money to do it”. But the reality is, the program has never been funded. It is a law on the books to support working families of Washington; the families prime sponsor, Tom Rodney (D,-48LD), seems to be forgetting about in his East Seattle suburban legislative district.
The repeal of the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act doesn’t do anything for the bottom line of Washington State’s budget (until it gets funded, at least), but it does a lot to the bottom line of families in Washington State. Over half of new mothers in the U.S. have no paid leave at all for childbirth – no paid sick time, no vacation, no disability, no maternity leave – according to the U.S. Census Bureau. FMLI is designed to help cover new parents that have the ability to take unpaid leave, but cannot because they cannot afford to.
According to an article in Washington Work & Family Coalition,
Repealing paid family leave will also increase the odds that more of our state’s working moms and dads will fall into poverty due to the birth of a child, and have to rely on the state for help. Research from Columbia University shows that 25% of all poverty spells in America begin with the birth of a new child. In states with paid family leave benefits, just 10% of new moms went on public assistance, compared to 24% in states without those programs. Women who returned to work after taking paid leave were 40% less likely to receive food stamps. They’re also 54% more likely to report wage increases than women who did not take paid leave.
The families of Washington State deserve better than to have their families undervalued by the State.