COVID-19 (coronavirus) and Paid Family and Medical Leave

COVID-19 and Paid Leave

We’re all in this together. COVID-19 has created an unprecedented demand for Employment Security Department’s services—especially unemployment insurance and Paid Family and Medical Leave.

If you or your business has been impacted by COVID-19, find out how we can help. Visit the Employment Security Department website for more resources.

Worker FAQ

Can I use Paid Family and Medical Leave if I am quarantined due to COVID-19?

Quarantine (as well as school closures and childcare closures) are not qualifying events under the program at this time, but if someone is sick with the virus they can get the medical certification and apply for the program. Go to the “Get ready to apply” page to learn more.

Can I use Paid Family and Medical Leave if I am sick with COVID-19?

As with any illness, to be eligible for paid medical leave, a healthcare provider must certify that you are unable to work due to a serious health condition. If your healthcare provider certifies your illness meets the definition of “serious health condition” and you have the qualifying hours, you can use Paid Family and Medical Leave for COVID-19 cases.

Need to stay home? Medical certification can be done electronically. The Certification of a Serious Health Condition form can be emailed to your healthcare provider and emailed back to you, then uploaded to your Paid Leave account. Electronic signatures are accepted.

Can I submit COVID test results as documentation for medical leave?

No, you or your healthcare provider will need to submit our Certification of a Serious Health Condition form or other signed documentation that includes the same information, such as a Family Medical Leave Act form or a doctor’s note.

Should I use paid sick leave or Paid Family and Medical Leave if I’m sick with COVID-19?

Workers who are ill with COVID-19 and have access to employer-provided paid sick leave should consider using this first – this is the first line of economic support in the face of this virus. Paid Family and Medical Leave is different than paid sick leave, but may also be used if you are ill with the virus. Here are key differences that you may want to consider:

Washington law requires your employer to provide you with the ability to accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every forty hours you work. It is enforced by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. For more information on paid sick leave, visit the Department of Labor & Industries website. Many employers provide additional paid sick leave on top of the state requirement, and those benefits are managed within those businesses.

I lost my job due to illness from/quarantine for COVID-19. What should I do?

If you lost your job due to COVID-19, Paid Family and Medical Leave and Unemployment Insurance may be able to help. Both are administered by the Employment Security Department, but they are different programs with separate eligibility requirements.

You do not have to be employed to receive Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits, but you cannot collect Unemployment Insurance and Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits at the same time. We encourage you to evaluate your eligibility for Paid Family and Medical Leave using this tool and to learn about expanded unemployment eligibility on the Employment Security Department website.

Employer FAQ

What help is there if my business is affected by COVID-19?

The Employment Security Department has several programs that can help businesses affected by COVID-19, including layoff aversion programs. ESD enacted emergency rules to relieve the burden of temporary layoffs, isolation and quarantine for workers and businesses. Go to ESD’s COVID-19 web page for more information.

Visit the Department of Health’s website for the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on the virus in Washington state.