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King County at forefront of national movement to expand paid parental leave


King County Executive
Dow Constantine

King County at forefront of national movement to expand paid parental leave


King County is now one of about a dozen governments across the country to offer up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave. Executive Constantine proposed the program so that employees have more opportunity to connect with their newborn children and to help recruit and retain talented workers.


Paid Parental Leave - King County

King County Executive Dow Constantine's proposal to offer up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave was approved by the County Council, making King County one of about a dozen public employers across the country to offer this type of program.

"I'm proud that King County is among the leading employers in the nation to offer a program that has a positive, lifelong impact on a child's development," said Executive Constantine. "It also demonstrates our commitment to recruiting and retaining the talented workforce we need to deliver the best outcomes for our community."

The Metropolitan King County Council voted 8-0 to create a one-year pilot program, which will start Jan. 1, 2016.

King County joins a few other major employers in the region, including Microsoft, Amazon, the Gates Foundation, and City of Seattle, to begin offering paid-parental leave to attract and retain high-caliber talent. King County and Seattle are the only public employers in the state to offer this type of program. Slightly more than a dozen governments—mostly cities—offer paid parental leave, though most do not offer as much as King County.

The program aligns with Executive Constantine's Best Starts for Kids initiative, designed to improve the health and well-being of the region by focusing on birth through 5, when 92 percent of brain growth occurs.

It will also confront the inequity that exists in the County's existing leave policies, which are less accessible to newer employees and have an adverse impact on those who are at the lower end of the pay scale.

"Providing paid parental leave is the right thing to do for a progressive employer like King County, and an essential piece of the compensation structure for a best-run government that attracts and keeps quality employees," said Dustin Frederick, Business Manager for the Public Safety Employees Union Local 519 and King County Coalition of Unions Co-Chair.

"Executive Constantine has been an outstanding leader in his commitment to early childhood support, as demonstrated by his Best Starts For Kids, and he furthers this commitment by implementing this pilot so that all parties can evaluate the usage and cost of paid parental leave. On behalf of the Labor Coalition, we appreciate the leadership and collaborative effort between the Executive and Council to arrive at a meaningful, yet affordable, program for 2016."


Chad Lewis, Executive Office 206-263-1250

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography