Self-employed opt-in

Opt in for paid time off when you need it most

So you can focus on what matters

If you’re self-employed, Paid Family and Medical Leave is here for you. If you opt in, you can receive paid time off when you need it most, like when a serious health condition prevents you from working. Or when you need time to care for a family member or a new child. Or if a family member in the military is about to be deployed overseas. Opt in to focus on what matters.

Am I self-employed?

You are self-employed if you are:

  • A sole proprietor
  • A joint venturer or a member of a partnership
  • A member of a limited liability company
  • An independent contractor (as described in RCW 50A.05.010 (7)(b))
  • Otherwise in business for yourself.

Corporate officers are not self-employed.

I own an S-Corp. Am I required to participate in Paid Family and Medical Leave?

Maybe! An S-Corp is a federal tax designation and isn’t enough information for us to know if you’re required to participate. In Washington, S-Corps are either a corporation or an LLC.

Corporations

If you receive compensation from your corporation in exchange for service provided to it, you are required to participate as an employee of that organization. Corporate officers are required to participate.

Limited Liability Companies (LLC’s)

Members of an LLC are exempt from the program even if they are taking a wage from their LLC. Owners of a sole-proprietorship or partnership and LLC members are not required to participate but can elect coverage.


Why opt in for paid leave?

As a self-employed Washingtonian, you’re not required to participate in Paid Family and Medical Leave. But if you choose to opt in, you’ll have access to up to 12 weeks of paid time off a year to care for yourself or a family member.

You can receive paid leave after you or a family member experience a “qualifying event,” such as a major surgery, serious illness or injury, a new baby or child joining your family, or a family member’s overseas deployment.

Learn more about how paid leave works.


How to opt in

When you opt in to Paid Family and Medical Leave, you agree to pay the employee share of the Paid Family and Medical Leave premium (about 0.25% of your income) for three years. After that, you can participate on an annual basis. You also need to report your wages every quarter.

You can qualify for paid leave starting at the beginning of the quarter after you opt in.

You also need to have met the requirement for hours worked. For self-employed people, the state determines your hours worked by dividing your reported wages by the state minimum wage. The result needs to equal at least 820 or more. (If you’ve earned at least $11,070 in the last year, you are eligible.) 

Once you have opted in, you will receive the same benefits as other Washington workers. And you will file quarterly reports and pay quarterly premiums to the Employment Security Department (ESD). You’ll receive details about how to set up your account and file reports after you opt in.

You can elect coverage and backdate until June 30, 2020. After you have created an elective coverage account, please call in to request the date you would like to set as your retroactive start date. You can then report and pay premiums, and your coverage begins immediately.

Ready to opt in?

Tribal businesses: How to opt in

Tribal governments can opt in to Paid Family and Medical Leave. If your tribe opts in, your employees and the employees of businesses owned by your tribal government will be eligible for Paid Family and Medical Leave.

Businesses located on tribal land that are not owned by tribal governments are not eligible for Paid Family and Medical Leave and cannot opt in.

Businesses owned by members of tribes but not located on tribal land are included in the program and do not need to opt in.

Why opt in: If your tribal government chooses to opt in, your employees will have access to paid time off to care for themselves or a family member, just like other Washington employees. When you opt in, your responsibilities will be the same as other businesses, but you can opt out after an initial commitment of three years.

Tribes may opt in by calling our Customer Care Team: 833-717-2273