SB 5097 would expand the paid-leave mandate and end a promised exemption for small businesses

Mar 31, 2021

Key findings

1. SB 5097, as introduced in January 2021, would expand coverage of the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program, enacted in 2017 and funded by a payroll tax on employees and employers in Washington.

2. Employees who have worked just 90 days, instead of 12 months, would now be eligible for certain program benefits, regardless of employer size.

3. “‘Family member’ means any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with a covered individual is the equivalent of a family member and includes a child, grandchild, grandparent, parent, sibling, or spouse of an employee,” according to a new definition.

4. SB 5097 would cancel a promised exemption regarding job restoration for employers with fewer than 50 employees.

5. Expanding PFML eligibility breaks a promise made to small businesses, undermines public support for the program, and threatens its financial health. 


SB 5097 would expand coverage in the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program enacted in 2017. It would do so by changing the definition of family and requiring a shorter time-period of employment before eligibility is met for certain program benefits. It also removes a job-restoration exemption for small businesses. 

Read the full Legislative Memo here.