Military Family Leave Act

An employee whose spouse has received an impending call to active duty during a period of military conflict may take up to 15 days of job-protected leave from work. Their spouse must be a member of the armed forces or National Guard, to be eligible. This leave also applies to reservists who have been called to active duty.

To qualify:

  • Employees must work an average of 20 or more hours per week.
  • Leave must be taken prior to or during deployment.
  • Employees can use any combination of accrued paid time off, or unpaid leave.
  • Employees must notify their employer within five business days of receiving notice of deployment.

See Chapter 49.77 RCW for full details.

If you feel like your employer has violated your rights under the Military Family Leave Act, you can file a protected leave complaint.

Leave for Certain Emergency Service Personnel 

Certain emergency service personnel have rights to leave work in connection with their emergency services, including:

  • Volunteer firefighters,
  • Reserve officers, and
  • Members of the Civil Air Patrol.

Employers with 20 or more full-time employees must allow the above emergency service personnel to arrive late and/or be absent from work when working at, or returning from, a fire alarm or emergency call. Participating in training or other nonemergency activities is not protected under this law.

Substitute Senate Bill 5384, passed during the 2021 legislative session, updates previous law making it easier for these qualified employees to be protected from retaliation. This means an employer cannot fire or discipline qualified employees for using this leave. The law updates also clarify they are protected regardless of any reimbursement they receive or if they get a call at work or elsewhere.

Employees may file a Protected Leave Complaint with L&I if they believe they have been retaliated against for attempting to use this type of leave. The complaint must be filed within 90 days of the alleged violation.

See RCW 49.12.460 for full details.