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Washington passes paid family leave bill


OLYMPIA, Wash.--Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire is expected to sign legislation soon that would require employers to offer employees up to five weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, according to the governor's office.

Effective Oct. 1, 2009, employees becoming new parents would be entitled to receive up to $250 a week for up to five weeks.

The bill, though, does not identify how the new benefit would be funded, leaving it to a state task force to address the issue in the future.

The Washington measure does not go nearly as far as a 2002 California law--the nation's first, which allows employees in the Golden State to take up to six weeks of paid leave to care for an ill child, parent, spouse, registered domestic partner, or to bond with a newborn or adopted child.

The California law also provides a richer benefit--up to a maximum of $882 per week--with benefits funded through employee payroll deductions of 0.08%.

Participation in the California program has been substantially less than original projections, though participation has been increasing steadily.

At the federal level, a 1993 law allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child; to take care of a sick child, parent or spouse; or when a serious health condition prevents an employee from working.