OLYMPIA – The Senate today voted 40-6 to explore giving access to unemployment benefits to those who become unemployed due to family caregiving responsibilities. Currently, unemployment insurance law does not allow individuals to collect unemployment benefits if they leave work voluntarily without “good cause.” The definition of what qualifies as “good cause” is too narrow and denies these essential benefits to workers who must leave a job due to inaccessible care for a child or vulnerable adult, or separation from a minor child. Sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), SB 5473 would require the state Employment Security Department to study the impacts of allowing exceptions to current unemployment insurance law that would allow such workers to collect benefits, in addition to workers whose job duties increase substantially or whose working conditions change significantly without a commensurate increase in pay. “Access to unemployment benefits would provide relief to working families trying to make ends meet while searching for employment that is compatible with their families’ needs,” said Saldaña. “Women–who are still largely in charge of family caregiving responsibilities–now outnumber men in the workforce,” said Saldaña. “In Washington, we value the work family caregivers do and we need to honor the efforts working families undertake to balance these duties with work outside the home. “The goal is to modernize unemployment insurance laws to reflect the needs of today’s workforce and help struggling households stay afloat in tough times—a must in the face of our worsening homelessness human rights crisis.” The bill will now be considered in the House of Representatives.
For interviews & information: Nicole Herrera, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7050