Legislature adds caregiving inaccessibility and more to the good cause quit list!

ULP is thrilled to announce that on Thursday, April 6, the Washington state Senate voted to adopt ESHB 1106, a bill that ULP helped develop and has pursued for six years to reform unemployment benefits to protect family caregivers.

Already passed by the state House of Representatives, the bill will shortly be on the way to the governor for signature. It means that caregivers who are faced with impossible workshift conflicts or care facility closures may receive unemployment benefits if they quit in order to find a new job.

This bill, which takes effect July 7 2024, fixes a destructive hole in the unemployment insurance safety net for family members caring for children, elderly parents, or other vulnerable adults If they are forced to quit a job because caregiving has become inaccessible

Washington’s restrictive good-cause-to-quit list covers some situations such as dangerous workplace conditions or a family member’s illness or death—but caregiving inaccessibility has been conspicuously absent. This omission is a relic of a long-past era when women’s domestic responsibilities were not considered relevant to employers’ needs.

When signed, the new law will halt the exclusion of family caregivers who have outside jobs—a majority of whom are women—from access to benefits when they have no choice but to quit their job because a change of workshift or a local condition such as a day care center closing has made family caregiving impossible.

The law will make two other important changes: A parent who needs to move to be closer to a minor child may quit with good cause, and all workers whose employer imposes a six-hour or more change in their normal work shift may also quit with good cause, with some restrictions. A last-minute compromise added a five-year sunset date to the bill, together with a requirement that its impact be assessed.

We owe this long-sought success to dynamic legislative leaders—House bill sponsor Rep. Mary Fosse, House Labor Committee chair Rep. Liz Berry, Senate sponsor Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, and Senate Labor Committee chair Sen. Karen Keiser—who enthusiastically supported this major legislation and steered it to passage.

Grassroots support from Moms Rising and the United Labor Lobby, and dedicated outreach and persuasion by Maggie Humphreys and the Washington State Labor Council’s Sybill Hyppolite were also essential to making this expansion of good cause quits a reality.

We send special thanks to ULP supporters who urged their legislators to vote for this reform. Successes like these, bringing desperately needed reforms to Washington workers’ access to benefits, would not be possible without your support. Thank you!

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