Electing coverage

Who can opt-in to the program?

  • Sole proprietors
  • Independent contractors
  • Partners
  • Joint ventures

What about federally recognized tribes?

  • Tribal government-owned businesses on tribal land can opt in.
  • Tribal member-owned businesses on tribal land are not in the program and cannot opt in.
  • Tribal member-owned businesses not on tribal land are included in the program and do not need to opt in.

We expect to publish details about the opt in process later this spring.  

Electing coverage: Why opt in?

By opting in to Paid Family and Medical Leave, you will have access to the same benefits an employee would receive who works for someone else. That means you can receive a proportion of your normal weekly pay, between $100 and $1000 per week, for up to 12 weeks in order to:

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

You may receive up to 16 weeks if you have events covered by both family and medical leave in the same qualifying period, and up to 18 in extreme circumstances.

How do I elect coverage?

  • We are currently building the functionality to process elective coverage opt ins online. Check back later this spring for details.
  • When electing coverage, you must participate for an initial period of three years, and then on an annual basis thereafter.
  • You will be responsible for paying the employee’s portion of the premium only. You can learn more about calculating this premium on our employer page.
  • You will need to report wages paid and other information quarterly, following the program's reporting requirements
  • ESD will use your reported income and divide it by the state’s minimum wage to presume the number of hours worked in the quarter. 

For more information regarding self-employed persons using the state plan, see the RCW here: Elective Coverage – Self Employed.