New bill seeks 6 months of paid family and medical leave for all workers

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A new push for mandatory paid time off for workers in Washington kicked off on Tuesday.

It was a moment worth capturing for supporters on the steps of the Capitol building. Washington Work and Family Coalition is pushing for the measure and they called upon supporters to show up to speak at Tuesday's press conference.

The new bill aims to give all Washington workers paid family and medical leave including part-time workers.

“Do you know that 25% of new moms have to go back to work within 2 weeks of giving birth,” Senator Karen Keiser said.

Several Democrats are fighting to give employees 6 months paid time off for a birth of a child, an adoption or to take care of a sick family member.

For individuals who get sick, the new bill gives up to 3 months of paid medical leave.

“I didn’t know I was going to wake up the next morning and somebody telling me you have breast cancer life happens,” Terri Calvillo said.

Calvillo who underwent a double mastectomy several years back is speaking up in hopes of persuading people who may be skeptical of the measure. After all, it would be a mandate for employers like the minimum wage. Q13 News asked Keiser about the impact on small businesses.

Keiser says the impact is not a hard one for most businesses.

For someone making $20 an hour, the employee will pay $2 per week and the employer will also pay $2.

The cost per employee varies depending on how much the worker makes and also if the employee is part-time or full-time.

“It doesn’t create a huge entitlement on state budgets it’s a paid premium,” Keiser said.

On Tuesday Molly Moon’s ice cream owner says she already provides paid FMLA to her 140 employees.

She will be lobbying for the measure to pass.

“It won’t even cost us as much as it will cost me to pay for one maternity leave this year,” Molly Moon’s owner Molly Moon Neitzel said.

But opponents on social media say employers should not be burdened by someone's choice to have a baby.

The bill was filed on Monday. Supporters are hoping a hearing on Senate Bill 5032 and its counterpart HB 1116 will be scheduled in the near future.