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  • How is the program funded?

    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.

    Witholding Example

    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.

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  • How do I manage my Paid Family & Medical Leave account?

    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.

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  • Are independent contractors covered?

    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 one year thereafter.

    Self-employed people who choose to participate 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.

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  • Is there assistance for small business?

    Grants are available for small businesses to help cover the costs of hiring temporary employees when a member of your team uses Paid Family and Medical Leave. To be eligible for these grants, your business must average 150 or fewer employees. Businesses that average fewer than 50 employees must pay the employer portion of premiums to be eligible.

    Grants of up to $3,000 are available and can be issued 10 times per year to a single employer. A business must apply for these grants and more information about the application process will be available in the future.

    A grant of $1,000 is available to businesses who experience significant wage-related costs due to an employee’s leave when using Paid Family and Medical Leave.

    You can learn more about Small Business Assistance in the RCW here.

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  • How do I manage my employer account?

    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. 

    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. 

    Check back in late fall 2018 for more information.

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  • What happens when my employee wants to take paid leave?

    Paid Family and Medical Leave is structured as an insurance program. Your employees pay into the program through payroll withholding, which is remitted by the employer. They qualify by working 820 hours in the qualifying period, verified by employer reporting.

    Once an employee has qualified by working 820 hours, they must then experience a qualifying event. This event could be related to either family or medical leave. For example, an employee who is caring for their newborn would use family leave. An employee caring for themselves after a car accident would use medical leave.

    After qualifying, the employee will file a claim with the Employment Security Department. This claim could be filed after the first missed day of work. In the car accident example, an employee could file their claim once they are physically able to. If the reason for leave is foreseeable, the employee must give their employer 30 days’ notice of their intention to take leave.

    The employer will be notified of the employee’s claim for leave. A process for the employer to dispute the employees claim will be developed in Phase 3 of Rulemaking. When the claim is approved, the employee receives their benefit payment within 14 days of the application. Payments are made biweekly after the first payment.

    If an employer has 50 or more employees, the employee is eligible for job protection if they have worked for that employer for 12 months or longer and have worked 1250 hours in the year to date before the first day of leave. 

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  • Employer Webinar: Small Business Overview

    Address Line 1: Online Webinar

    Small business will have special considerations in Washington’s Paid Family & Medical Leave program. Attend this free webinar to learn about those considerations, your requirements under the law, and … more

    End Date and Time: 11/29/2018 11:00:00 AM

    Start Date and Time: 11/29/2018 10:00:00 AM

  • Employer Webinar: Small Business Overview

    Address Line 1: Online Webinar

    Small business will have special considerations in Washington’s Paid Family & Medical Leave program. Attend this free webinar to learn about those considerations, your requirements under the law, and … more

    End Date and Time: 12/11/2018 11:00:00 AM

    Start Date and Time: 12/11/2018 10:00:00 AM

  • Are my patients eligible for benefits?

    Most people employed in Washington who work 820 hours or more in the qualifying period (the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before they plan to take leave) will qualify. There are some exceptions (federal employees, for example), but many of your working patients will likely qualify.

    In order to use their benefits, they must experience a qualifying event. Leave events can be either Family or Medical.

    Family Leave

    • Care and bond after a baby’s birth or the placement of a child younger than 18
    • Care for a family member experiencing an illness or medical event
    • Certain military-connected events

    Medical Leave

    • Care for yourself in relation to an illness or medical event

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  • How do I report employee hours and wages?

    Starting in 2019, employers will be required to report employee information to ESD quarterly. The first report will be due April 30 and you should begin tracking your employees’ hours and wages on Jan. 1, 2019.

    Reporting fields

    • UBI number
    • Business name
    • Total premiums collected (if any) from employees
    • Name of the report preparer

    Then, for each employee:

    • SSN or ITIN
    • Last name
    • First name
    • Middle initial
    • Wages paid in the reporting quarter and the associated hours

    Reporting periods follow calendar quarters and are aligned with the reporting periods for Unemployment Insurance.

    Reporting quarter Report due
    January, February, March April 30
    April, May, June July 31
    July, August, September October 31
    October, November, December January 31

    Reporting process

    In April 2019, employers will submit employee hours, wages and more for the first time. The process is currently in development and we plan to make it like reporting for Unemployment Insurance. However, it will be a separate report from Unemployment
    Insurance and other state programs. We expect most employers will submit reports online through our customer account management system. Bulk filing and alternative reporting options will both be available.

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