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

Beginning in 2020, 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.

The Employment Security Department administers the Paid Family and Medical Leave program.

Visit paidleave.wa.gov for full details.

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.

The basics for employees

The Paid Family and Medical Leave program is being phased-in over the next year. Benefits will be available starting in 2020.

  • Starting January 1, 2019, mandatory premium deductions of 0.4% of gross wages begin.
    • 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.
  • Starting January 1, 2020, employees can access their new paid leave benefits.

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

To receive your benefits under the Paid Family and Medical Leave program, you must work 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.