Washington’s Paid Family Medical Leave Program received attention at a U.S Senate Finance subcommittee hearing last month. The 2017 legislation, currently under development at the Employment Security Department, states that premium collection will begin Jan. 1, 2019 and benefits will become available Jan. 1, 2020.

“Our state is leading the way on paid family leave policy by creating the most business- and worker-friendly program in the U.S., and we’re excited to see this issue being discussed at the national level,” ESD’s commissioner, Suzi LeVine, said in a statement. “I am proud to lead the organization building a program that will ensure workers in this state won’t have to choose between collecting a paycheck and putting family first.”

The Paid Family Medical Leave Program will permit Washington employees to take up to 12 weeks of compensated leave to tend to themselves or a family member with a serious illness, military events, or parental leave. When fully implemented in 2020, numerous Washington workers and businesses will join in the program.

The benefits of the program, which has the highest wage replacement rate for workers as compared to similar programs, could be numerous. Increased health for newborns, lower rates of staff turnover, and improved health of elderly populations are just a few of those benefits.

“Washington’s best-in-the-nation program is a testament to the good that comes from everyone having a voice in the discussions around paid family and medical leave,” LeVine said in a statement. “Because whether you need back surgery, time to care for a family member with cancer or the opportunity to welcome a child into the family, everyone will need to use Paid Family and Medical Leave at some point.”