Sunday, March 15, 2020

Washington State's New Paid Family Medical Leave Program A Complete Disaster

It's a sick adults worst nightmare. To suddenly find out that despite thinking you were covered for your medical bills, you were somehow wrong. Your already home, caring for yourself after say, a needed neck surgery, and you can't get  through to anyone on the telephone at PFML ( Paid Family Medical Leave ) People on their Facebook page have all said the same thing. They wait on hold for up to an hour and then get hung up on. You can't get through to anyone via email. There's simply no communication what-so-ever. Unlike FMLA, your employer has nothing to do with filing this, you do it all yourself. So they can't help you. In fact, HR workers are having a hard time getting through to them as well.  

 The only time your phone rings lately its bill collectors. While Boeing is already demanding Government bailouts due to shut downs to hopefully prevent the spread of coronavirus, what about the actual workers in Washington who have been waiting for weeks to even hear back a word about being approved?

  You can't file with them until your baby is born apparently, in case you lose the baby. Wouldn't you still take a few weeks off anyhow? So they can't just pay you for those weeks then let you decide if you want to get a Dr's letter to ask for more time?

 I've never known a woman who lost a baby close to full term or during birth that just went back to work the next day. Regardless, this PFML in regards to having a baby is supposed to be so that parents can bond with the baby. But can you really do that while your on the phone trying to figure out where YOUR money is?

3 years ago, Washington State legislature passed what they called a " historic bipartisan legislation that will provide paid family and medical leave benefits to working Washingtonians. The bill is said to be one of the most progressive. Called " worker friendly as well as fiscally responsible " promising to include low wage workers who will receive up to 90% of their salary or wages while on leave. 

The following article says  " Washington’s leave program is among the most generous in the nation, and supporters are optimistic it will increase worker security and help provide stability for employers " 

Read here for the history on what they envisioned and decide for yourself, did they prepare for the amount of applicants? 

Seattle Times Article from 2018 

So here we are in the middle of March, and thousands of people who paid into the program for the last year, amd who were counting on it for the birth of a child, or for planned surgery have been left to fend for themselves, with a apology on the SAW ( Secure Access Washington )  website saying " We know how hard this is " etc. 

And then the unimaginable happens. While your wondering how your going to eat that night, or how your going to fix your car that just broke down so you can get your kids to school and yourself to your follow up Dr. appointments, you have already been fighting with your husband over lack of better financial planning. They are saying it could be up to 12 weeks before you get paid a dime of what your OWED from the PFML that you paid into for the last year....and now....The Coronavirus hits your city, your state with the most progressive and promising Paid Family Leave program. NOW WHAT? 

Are you suppose to just forget what your body is telling you? To stay in bed and rest after your surgery? What if you become sick with other illnesses besides the Coronavirus. It seems like suddenly this is the only disease that matters. When people are suffering from extremely painful conditions like Crohn's disease, Fibromyalgia , obviously cancer treatments to name a few. 

This article is not to seem unsympathetic to anyone anywhere that has contracted the Coronavirus. Do I personally think maybe certain countries should simply stop eating snakes, bats, spiders and monkeys? Well yes, I do. But I am simply here to warn anyone trying to get paid to stay home on leave for ANY of the qualifying reasons, filling out all the proper forms, sending them in, and waiting will likely leave you very frustrated and possibly very broke. 

Please share this so that people who have applied might get some outside assistance in getting the money coming to them.  And so that people who may get sick today with this virus  ( a virus that we really don't know enough about to know how long and how many of us are at risk- the outcome is not yet preordained ) may take this all into consideration before they walk off the job thinking they can count on this program. 

One thing is for sure. ESD ( Employment Security Department ) is WAY behind on processing payments to people who applied many weeks ago. And something needs to be done on an emergency type scale to get these working people paid and able to pay their bills. This needs to happen now, not in 2 months. After all, it is now a law. 

Please share this and please comment if you have been waiting for a unreasonable amount of time for your PFML.