The Employment Security Department administers the Paid Family and Medical Leave program. The program is a state-run insurance benefit passed by the Legislature in 2017.

It allows most employees to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave for:

  • Bonding after the birth or placement of a child.
  • An employee’s serious health condition.
  • A serious health condition of a qualifying family member.
  • Certain military events.

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The basics for employees

The Paid Family and Medical Leave program was phased-in over the last year. Benefits started at the beginning of 2020.

  • In January of 2020, employees were able to start accessing their new paid leave benefits.
  • Starting January of 2022, the mandatory premium deduction will be 0.6% of gross wages.
    • Premiums are split between employer (26.78%) and employee (73.22%) for most employers.
    • Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium, but must collect the full employee portion (73.22%) from the employee’s gross wages or opt to pay the employee portion.

Benefits provide a percentage of the employee’s gross wages – between $100-1,000 per week – while the employee is on approved leave.

Nearly every worker can qualify for Paid Family and Medical Leave if they worked a minimum of 820 hours (about 16 hours a week) in Washington during their qualifying period. The “qualifying period” is 12-18 months prior to the date of application for paid leave.

The basics for employers

Most employers, regardless of size, will have the responsibility to:

  • Collect premiums from all employees.
  • Report employees’ wages, hours worked, and other information to Employment Security Department.
  • Post the required poster and notices in the workplace.

Employers can provide paid family and medical leave benefits either through the state-run program, or purchase a voluntary private plan that provides benefits equal to or greater than the state minimum requirements.

The following employers are exempt from the program:

  • Federal employers and employees.
  • Federally recognized Tribes*.
  • Self-employed individuals*.

*Tribes and self-employed individuals can opt-in to the program.

You may also have benefits available from your employer today under the Paid Sick Leave program administered by L&I. This program began January 1, 2018 and is available to most employees.