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.