DES MOINES — Upon the publication of the 2021 premium rate for the Paid Family and Medical Leave program, which will stay the same as the 2020 rate, Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) released the following statement:

“With the Paid Family and Medical Leave program, the Employment Security Department was given a tall order: stand up an unprecedented program from scratch in a mere two years, provide essential benefits to families at a crucial time in their lives, and continue to do it through the worst recession of the last century.

“I’m proud to say that they have done an excellent job.

“Given the profound effect of the COVID-19 public health crisis on workers and small businesses, keeping the premium flat at 0.4% of gross wages will leave more money in the pockets of Washingtonians while still maintaining the program’s strength.

“The urgent need for paid family and medical leave was demonstrated when the program received 10,000 applications in the first two weeks alone.

“Since that initial flood of applications when the program opened in January 2020, it has delivered more than $375 million in benefits to more than 85,000 Washingtonians, while reducing wait times from 11 weeks to two weeks.

“Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program remains the strongest in the nation, offering 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave per year. That means new mothers and fathers can stay with their infants in those first precious weeks. It means grandparents can depend on their family in times of sickness. It strengthens families and makes our communities more resilient.

“And it will do so next year at no additional cost.”

Washingtonians can find more information about the Paid Family and Medical Leave program at