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.

Visit paidleave.wa.gov for full details.

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 2019, mandatory premium deductions of 0.4% of gross wages began.
    • Premiums are split between employer (36.67%) and employee (63.33%) 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 (63.33%) from the employee’s gross wages or opt to pay the employee portion.
  • In January of 2020, employees were able to start accessing their new paid leave benefits.

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

To receive benefits under the Paid Family and Medical Leave program, you must have worked a total of at least 820 hours for any Washington employers during the previous 12 months.

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.