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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


King County considers paid parental leave

Summary

Proposal by King County Executive Dow Constantine places King County on forefront of growing national conversation about well-being of children and families.

Story

King County employees would become eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave upon the birth or adoption of a child, under a proposal King County Executive Dow Constantine sent this week to the King County Council.

"Science shows that newborns' earliest experiences are the most important to their long-term success. For children to flourish, they need time to bond with their parents," said Executive Constantine. "This measure places King County on the forefront of a growing national conversation about the well-being of children and families, and the expectations of a 21st century workforce."

The legislation sent to the King County Council, where it is sponsored by Councilmember Rod Dembowski, would supplement an employee's accrued paid leave at the time he or she welcomes a new family member through birth, adoption, or foster-to-adopt placement. The employee would become eligible for a total of 12 weeks of paid leave, by combining the supplemental leave with the employee's existing accrued paid leave, while permitting the employee to reserve one week of sick leave and one week of vacation leave.

The Executive's proposal supports the county's county's principles of equity and social justice by reducing disparities in leave-taking between workers at the lower and higher ends of the salary scale, and helps avoid workers having to drop out of the workforce entirely.

The Executive's proposal also supports the county's Strategic Plan, which calls for developing and retaining a quality workforce. Several major employers in the region, including Microsoft, Amazon, the City of Seattle, and the Gates Foundation, have recently boosted their paid parental leave programs in order to draw top-caliber employees.

The United States stands virtually alone in not mandating paid leave of any type for its workers, with an estimated 12 percent of employers voluntarily offering paid parental leave. Most of those are in the three states that have publicly funded some level of paid family leave: California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.

The proposal now before the Council calls for evaluation of the program after one year.




Quotes

Science shows that newborns' earliest experiences are the most important to their long-term success. For children to flourish, they need time to bond with their parents. This measure places King County on the forefront of a growing national conversation about the well-being of children and families, and the expectations of a 21st century workforce.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive
For more information

Frank Abe, Executive's Office, 206-263-9609

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography