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Washington Lawmakers Consider Expanding Paid Time Off For Families

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Paid medical leave benefits would expand for employees under a measure in the Washington legislature. The measure would allow workers to take up to 12 weeks to tend to new babies in addition to 12 weeks for other medical issues at home.

Proponents of increasing paid time-off for families filled a hearing room in Olympia Tuesday. Don Orange owns a small auto repair shop in Vancouver, Wash. He testified he would gladly pay extra for the new benefit.

“When we say families, we talk about the children," Orange says. "And these kids that we take good care of, these kids are the ones that are going to be paying in when I’m on Social Security in a few years.”

Gary Smith from the Independent Business Association said few business owners are as fortunate as Orange.

“I thought it was fabulous that the gentlemen in the previous panel said his business could do it, but there are many small businesses out there now that cannot create those new jobs that we so desperately need.”

On Tuesday, the Washington Senate debated a measure to repeal the family and medical leave act altogether. Meanwhile, Portland city commissioners are considering an ordinance to require businesses to offer earned sick leave to employees.