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Take care of the people who take care of your business.
What to do on Jan. 1, 2019:
Begin withholding Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums from employee paychecks … more
Nearly all employers in the State of Washington have responsibilities under the Paid Family and Medical Leave program, including non-profits, state and local government agencies, faith organizations and other typically tax-exempt associations. An important note: all employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay premiums, but must still report employee wages, hours and more. Federal Employees are exempt from this program.
Voluntary Plans are available to employers who wish to operate their own paid family and/or medical leave programs. The employee benefits of a Voluntary Plan must meet or exceed the state plan's benefits. Benefits must also be extended to all employees of the applying business.
Employers must apply and be approved to operate a Voluntary Plan. Applications can be submitted through an online tool, which is under development and expected to become available in late summer 2018.
For the first three years of a Voluntary Plan’s existence, reapproval is required every year. After three years, reapproval is required only if the employer makes changes to the plan. All Voluntary Plan applications will be subject to a $250 fee, except for mandated renewals.
If a Voluntary Plan is denied, employees are covered under the state plan.
More information is available on our Voluntary Plan Page.back to top
Small businesses will play a critical role in the success of Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program. This paid-leave program offers small businesses employees … more
As part of the Paid Family and Medical Leave implementation, ESD is building a secure account management system where employers will file reports, pay premiums, and apply for voluntary plans, among other things. Credentials (your username and password) will be administered by SecureAccess.wa.gov, a site many employers are familiar with from interactions with other state agencies.
The development of the account management system is strategically phased to deliver the most value to customers as quickly as possible. That means that what you see the first time you log in to your account is not the finished product but the first iteration of a system that will be refined and expanded as we implement new components of the program.
Voluntary plan applications are our first planned release and will be available in September 2018.
Future development of the features and functionality will roughly follow the timeline below.back to top
Paid Family and Medical Leave is an insurance program funded through premiums paid by employers and workers. Employers start collecting premiums on Jan. 1, 2019. All employers may either withhold employees' premiums from their paychecks or pay some or all of the premium on their employees’ behalf. Employers who choose to withhold premiums from their employees may withhold up to 63% of the total premium. The employer is responsible for paying the other 37% and remitting total premiums to ESD on a quarterly basis starting April 2019.
- The premium for 2019 is 0.4% of an employee's gross wages. To estimate your premiums, use the calculation below or our premium calculator.
- Under the law, employers may split the cost of the program with employees by withholding up to 63% of the premium from their paychecks.
- An employer can elect to pay all or some of their employees' share of the premium on their behalf.
- Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium.
- Premium withholdings are capped at the Social Security cap, $128,400 in 2018.
Washington's Paid Family and Medical Leave is organized as an insurance program. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, most employers will collect up to 63% of each employee's Paid Family and Medical Leave premium from their paychecks. Employers may elect to pay all or some of their employees' premiums on their behalf.
The initial premium will be 0.4% and can be adjusted annually after 2020 by the Employment Security Department, according to rules set by the statute.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium but are still required to collect and remit the employee portion (learn more about how we calculate the number of employees a business has, read our employer page).
Employers operating an approved voluntary plan should refer to the voluntary plan page for details about premium collection in that circumstance.
If an employer is using the state plan for both family and medical leave and opts not to cover any of their employee's share of the premium, they will pay about 37% of their employee's total premium, and the employee will pay about 63%. You can estimate your premiums using our premium calculator or by using the calculation detailed below.
An employee earned $2,500 gross pay in a single pay period. The premium is 0.4% in 2019.
First, calculate the employee’s total premium.
$2500 * .004 = $10
Second, calculate the minimum employer and maximum employee shares.
Maximum employee share
$10 * .6333 = $6.33
$6.33 is the total maximum employee share of the premium.
Minimum employer share
$10 * .3667 = $3.67
The employee contributes $6.33. The employer contributes $3.67.
- Use conventional rounding when necessary.
- An employer can pay any or all of the employee’s share of the premiums.
- If the employer had fewer than 50 employees, they are not required to contribute the employer part of the premium. They are still required to collect and remit the employee part, as well as fulfill the reporting requirements of the program.
(Reporting and remitting details are still in the rulemaking process, set to be finalized Nov. 2018 - have your say about the proposed rules here)
Premiums are expected to be reported quarterly. They will need to be remitted before the end of the month after each completed calendar quarter.
Payment Due Before
January – March
April – June
July – September
October – December
The tools employers will use to pay these premiums are being created in the summer of 2018. More information will be posted here when details about this process are available. Our newsletter is the best place to receive updates about this process.
Nearly all employers in the state are required to participate in this program. Out-of-state employers who have employees based in Washington are required to collect premiums and remit on behalf of their Washington employees.
If an employee primarily works in Washington, and most of their work is performed in Washington, they are covered by Paid Family and Medical Leave. This continues to be true even if they sometimes travel for work out of state.
An employee is not covered by Paid Family and Medical Leave, and their employer is not required to withhold premiums, if they are working in Washington for a short period of time.
Example: A storm hits Washington. An employer in Oregon dispatches an employee who typically lives and works in Oregon to help with repair work. The employee works temporarily in Washington for the employer for one week, and then returns to work in Oregon for the employer. The employment is localized within Oregon and is not subject to premium assessment.
Voluntary plan participants
Voluntary Plan employers are not required to withhold state plan premiums. They are still required to report employee wages and hours, along with other information. See the Voluntary Plan page for more information.
Any self-employed person may opt-in to the state plan. This includes sole proprietors, independent contractors, partners, and joint ventures. When electing to use the state plan, self-employed persons must participate for an initial period of three years, and then can renew every year thereafter.
Self-employed people must cover the employee share of the premium and are required to work 820 hours in the qualifying period to be eligible for benefits.
For more information regarding self-employed persons using the state plan, see the RCW here: Elective Coverage – Self Employed.back to top
Appeals are available to employers who belive their application was wrongly determined. The application appeal process is in development and is planned to be announced late summer 2018.back to top
Washington's Paid Family & Medical Leave Program is organized as an insurance program. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, most employers are required to collect Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums from employee paychecks.
The initial premium will be .4% and can be adjusted annually after 2020 by the Employment Security Department, according to rules set by the statute. One-third (1/3) of the premium will be collected for Family Leave, and 2/3 of the premium for Medical Leave.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium but are still required to collect and remit the employee portion. To learn more about how we calculate the number of employees a business has, read our Employer Page.
Premium payments are required to be paid quarterly. Payments are due to the department by the last day of the month following the end of the calendar quarter for which premiums are being paid.
Employers using a Voluntary Plan should refer to the Voluntary Plan page for details about premium collection in that circumstance.
As an example, an employee has earned $2,500 gross pay in a single pay period. The premium is 0.4% in 2019.
Total Premium Calculation
$2,500 * .004 = $10.
In this example, the total premium would be $10.
An employer may choose to pay this entire premium on their own. If they choose to withhold a portion from their employees, the maximum they may withhold can be calculated:
The Employee Portion
Family Leave: $10 * .3333 = $3.33
Medical Leave: $10 * .3000 = $3.00
The Employer Portion
Medical Leave: $10 * .3667 = $3.67
In this example, the employee would have $6.33 ($3.33 + $3.00) withheld from their paycheck. The employer would remit employee and employer portions and quarterly to the Employment Security Department.
If the employer had fewer than 50 employees, they would not be required to contribute the employer part of the premium. They are still required to collect and remit the employee part, as well as fulfill the reporting requirements of the program.back to top
Paid Family and Medical Leave - Employer Webinar
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Washington … more
Employers start collecting premiums for Paid Family and Medical Leave on Jan. 1, 2019. For 2019, the premium is 0.4% of each employee’s gross wages. Use the calculator … more
When you apply for benefits (starting in 2020), you will be able to set up a customer account with Employment Security Department to apply for and manage your claim. The application and benefit payment processes will be customer-focused, and we anticipate designing a simple, fast and friendly experience. This page will be updated with more information when it is available.back to top