Bill expanding access to unemployment benefits for workers passes House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee

January 20, 2023

Olympia- Rep. Mary Fosse, D-Everett, recently introduced House Bill 1106, where workers would no longer be disqualified from unemployment benefits when their separation from employment was necessary to access care for a child or a vulnerable adult. This legislation cleared its first legislative hurdle today when it was voted out of the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee with a vote of 6-3.

“As a mother of two, and the daughter of a single mother, I’ve seen firsthand the difficulty workers face when having to choose between caring for loved ones or losing their livelihoods. Washington’s statute that governs circumstances when an employee may leave a job and receive unemployment benefits is one of the most restrictive in the country” said. Fosse. “The addition of a good cause quit for workers facing caregiving inaccessibility problems, either because of scheduling changes by their employer or other factors outside the caregiver’s control, is a crucially needed to fix this gap of our unemployment system, and help our working families.”

Washington has a narrow list of twelve existing “good cause” circumstances permitted under law, also referred to as “voluntary quits.” This bill extends UI eligibility for individuals needing to leave employment because of the death, illness, or disability of any family member, or when workers are unable to reconcile care obligations for a child or vulnerable adult. These changes eliminate unnecessary barriers for workers who have been left out of the system, and helps address the needs of employees with caregiving and other responsibilities in Washington.

The bill was heard in committee on Tuesday, January 10. It now heads to the House Rules Committee.