Employers

Washington employers will play a critical role in the success of Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program. This statewide insurance program can play an important part in employee retention, wellbeing, and the global competitiveness of Washington’s businesses.

It is harder than ever to find employees with the right mix of skill and experience. Paid Family and Medical Leave can help by giving your business access to this valuable benefit without carrying all of the costs, so you can keep your best employees even when they experience life's challenges.

Quick Facts

  1. This statewide insurance plan requires employers to report employee wages, hours worked, and additional information every quarter.
  2. Premiums are 0.4% of gross wages paid.
  3. Premium collection begins in 2019 and claims for leave benefits start in 2020.
  4. Workers can take leave for qualified events for up to 12 weeks generally, and up to 18 weeks under exceptional circumstances.
  5. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium but are required to remit the employee portion of the premium and abide by all reporting requirements.
  6. Small business assistance grants are available to businesses with 50-150 employees, and businesses with fewer than 50 employees who have opted-in to the employer share of the premium.
  7. Voluntary plans are available to employers who want to manage a plan internally that meets or exceeds the state plan’s requirements.

Getting Started

Paid Family and Medical Leave is a statewide insurance program.

With very few exceptions, employers will have a responsibility to:

  1. Report employee information for all employees.
  2. Collect and remit premiums.

This program was authorized by the Legislature in 2017, and its implementation is ongoing. The information below will help you get started, but please understand that rulemaking is ongoing, and we will update this page with more details as they become available. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date. 

Learn More: Employer Webinars

We will host a series of live employer webinars throughout 2018. You can find the schedule for these webinars on our Employer Webinar page.

 Your feedback is welcome. Please take our short survey about this webinar after viewing: Webinar Survey


How does Paid Family & Medical Leave work for employers?

  • Who's eligible for benefits?

    To qualify for Paid Family and Medical Leave, you must work 820 hours or more in the qualifying period. The qualifying period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters starting from the day you intend to take leave.

    All Washington employers, including out-of-state employers with Washington employees, are required to particpate with few exceptions.

    Exceptions:

    • Self employed individuals (May opt-in)
    • Federal Employees
    • Federally Recognized Tribes (May opt-in)
    • People who work temporarily in Washington (Example: Utility worker helping after a storm)

    Temporary waivers for out-of-state employees

    Employers may apply for a Premium Waver for their workers when:

    • The employee generally does their work out of state;
    • The employee works in Washington on a temporary work schedule; and
    • The employee is not expected to work in Washington for 820 hours or more.

    In-state vs. out-of-state employees

    An employee is included in Paid Family and Medical Leave when:

    • All of the employee’s work is performed in Washington; or
    • Most of the employee’s work or services are done in Washington, but some of the work is done temporarily out-of-state.

    When work is not located in any state, the worker must participate when:

    • The base of operations is in Washington; or
    • If there is no base of operations, but the place where services are directed is in Washington; or
    • There is no base of operations, no place where services are directed, but the worker lives in Washington.
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  • What do the benefits cover?

    Paid Family and Medical Leave cannot be taken without 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

    When qualified, Washington workers will be eligable for up to 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave. An additional 2 weeks of leave is available when the leave is a result of pregnancy complications. Workers are eligible for up to 16 weeks of leave when family and medical leave are used in combination. For example, an expecting mother could use 8 weeks of medical leave for bed rest. The mother could then use an additional 8 weeks of family leave after giving birth to care and bond with the new child.

    Benefit Calculation

    The weekly benefit for Paid Family and Medical Leave is the dollar amount a covered employee will receive weekly while claiming these benefits. The dollar amount is capped at $1,000 with a minimum of $100. To calculate this amount, you will need the employee’s average weekly wage (the employee’s total wages paid during the two highest paid calendar quarters during the qualifying period, divided by 26, rounded down to the nearest whole dollar) and the state average weekly wage ($1,190*).

    If the employee makes less than half of the state’s average weekly wage ($595*), the weekly benefit is equal to 90% of the employee’s average weekly wage, rounded down to the nearest dollar.

    If the employee makes more than half of the state’s average weekly wage, there are two numbers to calculate. To calculate the first number, take 90% of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at half of the state’s average weekly wage. To calculate the second number, take 50% of the employee’s average weekly wage that is above half of the state’s average weekly wage.

    The sum of these two numbers, rounded down to the nearest dollar with a cap of $1,000, is the employee’s weekly benefit.

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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

    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.

    To calculate the employer and employee contribution, the Family Leave (1/3) and Medical Leave (2/3) portion must be calculated first.

    Family Leave Portion

    $10 * .333 = $3.33

    Medical Leave Portion

    $10 * .666 = $6.67

    The Family Leave portion is paid entirely by the employee. The Medical Leave portion is split between employer (55%) and employee (45%).

    Contribution Calculation

    Employee Contribution

    Family Leave Portion + Medical Leave Portion

    $3.33 + ($6.67 * .45%)

    $3.33 + $3

    $6.33 is the employee contribution.

    Employer Contribution

    Family Leave Portion + Medical Leave Portion

    $0 + ($6.67 * .55)

    $3.67 is the employer contribution.

    In this example, the employee would have $6.33 withheld from their paycheck. The employer would remit both employee and employer contributions 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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  • Is participation in the program mandatory?

    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.

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As an employer, what are my responsibilities?

  • What are my responsibilities?

    Paid Family and Medical Leave is a statewide insurance program.

    With very few exceptions, employers will have a responsibility to:

    1. Report employee wages, hours worked, and other information for all employees.
    2. Collect and remit premiums.

    This program was authorized by the Legislature in 2017, and its implementation is ongoing. The information below will help you get started, but please understand that rulemaking is ongoing, and we will update this page with more details as they become available. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date. Watch the Employer Webinar for additional information.

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  • How do I pay premiums?

    Paid Family and Medical Leave is an insurance program funded through premiums paid by employers and workers in the form of paycheck withholdings. Employers, regardless of size, are required to collect and remit these premiums, though some employers are not required to pay the employer portion. Nearly all employers in the state will participate in the program.

    Quick Facts

    • Employers must collect and remit premiums starting in 2019.
    • The premium for 2019 is 0.4%.
    • The premium is shared by employer (37%) and employee (63%).
    • An employer can elect to pay the employee's share of the premium.
    • Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium.
    • Premiums must be remitted quarterly during the month following each completed calendar quarter.
    • Premium withholdings are capped at the Social Security cap, $128,400 in 2018.

    Summary

    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.

    Withholding Example

    In this example, the employer is using the state plan for both family and medical leave. An employee has 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 employer and employee shares of family and medical leave.

    Employee share of family leave

    $10 * .3333 = $3.33

    Employee share of medical leave

    $10 * .3000 = $3.00

    Add them together for the total employee premium

    $3.33 + $3 = $6.33

    $6.33 is the total employee share of the premium

    Employers are not required to pay a portion of family leave.

    Employer share of medical leave

    $10 * .3667 = $3.67

    The employee contributes $6.33. The employer contributes $3.67.

    Please note:

    • 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.

    Remittance

    (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.

    Reporting Quarter

    Payment Due Before

    January – March

    April 30th

    April – June

    July 30th

    July – September

    October 31st

    October – December

    January 31st

    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.

    Exemptions

    Localization

    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.

    Self Employed People

    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.

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  • How do I report employee hours and wages?

    NOTE: The program’s administrative requirements are currently under consideration through the rulemaking process. The requirements listed below are tentative and will not be final until November 2018. To participate in the rulemaking process, visit ESD's rulemaking webpage.

    Nearly all Washington employers will have a responsibility to report wages and hours worked for their Washington-based employees starting in 2019.

    The benefits of Paid Family and Medical Leave are portable between jobs, so employees’ access to this leave will depend on accurate reporting by all employers.

    There are penalties written into the statute for employers who neglect this responsibility.

    Reporting Tools

    Employers will use SecureAccess.wa.gov to securely access the Paid Family and Medical Leave reporting site. When first accessing the reporting site, an employer will need their UBI to securely connect their user account to their place of business.

    The reporting site is under development in the summer and fall of 2018 and we will share more information about this site when it is available. Our newsletter is the best way to stay up to date.

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  • Does this replace FMLA?

    Paid Family and Medical Leave is a statewide program. FMLA is a federal program. In short, this does not replace FMLA.

    Businesses with fewer than 50 employees do not have requirements under FMLA, but they must collect and remit employee premiums and complete required reporting for Paid Family and Medical Leave.

    When an employee experiences a qualifying event, and the event would qualify for both Paid Family and Medical Leave and FMLA, the available leave in both programs decreases together as an employee takes leave.

    Many questions about how Paid Family and Medical Leave will interact with FMLA will be answered in the third phase of Rulemaking. We encourage the public to participate in this process through our Rulemaking Page.

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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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How do I apply for a voluntary plan?

  • What is a voluntary plan?

    Voluntary Plans are employer-run paid family and/or medical leave insurance programs. Employers can choose to use a voluntary plan for family leave, medical leave or both. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, all Washington employers must offer paid family and medical leave whether it's through a voluntary plan or the state plan.

    Submit Your Voluntary Plan Application

    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.

    Download Voluntary Plan Guide

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  • What are the requirements?

    Voluntary plans must meet or exceed the state plan benefits. The requirements are broadly divided into administrative requirements and benefit requirements. Administrative requirements are associated with ways your business operates the voluntary plan. Benefit requirements govern the kinds of benefits your plan provides to your employees.

    Administrative Requirements

    Reporting

    Employers using a voluntary plan must report employee wages, hours worked, and other information required by the state.

    Paid family and medical leave benefits are portable between jobs, and employee qualification is based on hours worked. Therefore, reporting is necessary for voluntary plan employers so that employees have a record of their total hours worked among all employers.

    Family Leave and Medical Leave

    There are two parts to Paid Family and Medical Leave: family leave and medical leave. An employer can choose a voluntary plan that covers just family leave, just medical leave, or both.

    Family leave covers events like the birth of a baby or the adoption or placement of a child younger than 18, the care for a family member, and some military-connected events.

    Medical leave covers self-care for the employee after a qualifying event. Medical leave is sometimes called short-term or temporary disability.

    If an employer chooses to operate one part and not the other, the employees of that business will use the state plan for the part not chosen. The employer must meet the requirements of the state plan for the option not chosen in addition to operating their voluntary plan.

    Third Party Administration

    Voluntary plan employers have the option to work with a third party to operate their voluntary plan. If an employer chooses to work with a third party the employer still carries the legal burden of satisfying the requirements of the program.

    An employer’s application should be submitted, and agreed to, by the applying employer.

    Accelerated Payment Offer

    A Voluntary Plan employer may incentivize an employee to return to work early. These employers can offer an accelerated payment schedule where they pay the monetary benefit the employee is entitled to in a shorter period of time, allowing the employee the choice to return earlier than expected.

    For an offer to meet the requirements of the law, an employer must offer at least half the entitled amount of time for leave, then compensate the employee the benefit amount they would’ve received had they taken the entire amount of leave.

    For example, an employee could intend to take 10 weeks of Paid Family and Medical Leave. The employer could offer 8 weeks of paid leave and the compensation of the final 2 weeks when they return to work. If the employee excepts this offer, they would be out of work for 8 weeks and receive the compensation of 10 weeks.

    The decision to accept this offer from an employer is entirely the employee’s. This accelerated payment option is only available to Voluntary Plan participants.

    Benefit Requirements

    To meet or exceed the state plan, voluntary plans must meet or exceed the state plan in the following benefits:

    • Eligibility
    • Premium amount
    • Leave duration
    • Weekly benefit
    • Job protection
    • Maintenance of health benefits
    • Frequency of benefit payment

     The following chart illustrates the difference in requirements by family leave plan, medical leave plan, or both.

    Requirement

    State Plan

    Voluntary Plan for Medical Leave Only

    Voluntary Plan for Family Leave Only

    Voluntary Plan for Family and Medical Leave

    Employee Eligibility

    Covers All Eligible Employees

    Covers All Eligible Employees

    Covers All Eligible Employees

    Covers All Eligible Employees

    Premium Amount

    0.4%

    (0.4% * 2/3) = .27% or less

    (0.4% * 1/3) = .13% or less

    0.4%  or less

    Leave Duration

    Up to 12 weeks of family or medical leave, plus 2 weeks if leave results from pregnancy complications.

    Up to 16 weeks in combination of family and medical leave, plus 2 weeks if leave results from pregnancy complications.

    Up to 12 weeks of medical leave, plus 2 weeks if leave results from pregnancy complications

    Up to 12 weeks of family leave

    Equal to or more than state plan

    Weekly Benefit

    Up to 90% wage replacement based on weekly average wage

    Equal to or more than state plan by weekly average wage

    Equal to or more than state plan by weekly average wage

    Equal to or more than state plan by weekly average wage

    Job Protection

    Employer with 50 or more employees, worked for 12 months with employer, worked 1250 hours during year

    Employee must work 9 months and 965 hours for that employer for 12 months preceding date leave will begin, in addition to state plan requirements

    Employee must work 9 months and 965 hours for that employer for 12 months preceding date leave will begin, in addition to state plan requirements

    Employee must work 9 months and 965 hours for that employer for 12 months preceding date leave will begin, in addition to state plan requirements

    Health Benefits While on Leave

    Must maintain health benefits while on leave in accordance to FMLA

    Must maintain health benefits while on leave in accordance to FMLA

    Must maintain health benefits while on leave in accordance to FMLA

    Must maintain health benefits while on leave in accordance to FMLA

    Frequency of Benefit Payment

    1st payment within 14 days after application and biweekly thereafter

    Equal or more often than state plan

    Equal or more often than state plan

    Equal or more often than state plan

      

    Eligibility

    A voluntary plan must cover all employees of an applying employer.

    Employees are eligible for benefit payments under an approved voluntary plan once they have worked 820 hours in the qualifying period and 340 hours for that employer. Employees who are not yet eligible for coverage under an approved voluntary plan are eligible for benefits under the state plan if they have worked 820 hours in the qualifying period.

    If an employee was covered under a voluntary plan by their previous employer, they are immediately eligible for their new employer’s voluntary plan.

    Benefit Eligibility Restrictions

    The requirement for benefit eligibility in the state plan is working 820 hours in the qualifying period. Voluntary plans must match this requirement* and cannot add additional hurdles to eligibility. Your application will not be approved if it restricts benefit eligibility for reasons like age, gender, race, preexisting conditions, etc.

    *By statute, voluntary plans require an employee to also work 340 hours for the voluntary plan employer in the qualifying period to be eligible for benefits.

    Premium Amount

    The state plan premium will be 0.4% in 2019. These state plan premiums are divided into portions for Family Leave and Medical Leave. The Family Leave portion is 1/3 of the total premium, and the Medical Leave portion is 2/3.

    A voluntary plan must be equal or less than these amounts. A voluntary plan that only covers family leave must have a premium of .13%  (0.4% * 1/3) or less. A voluntary plan that only covers medical leave must have a premium of 0.27% (0.4% * 2/3) or less. If your voluntary plan covers both family and medical leave, the premium must be 0.4% or less.

    Leave Duration

    The state plan offers up to 12 weeks of family or medical leave, plus 2 weeks if the leave is a result from pregnancy complications. There is 16 weeks available for a combination of family and medical leave, and again an additional 2 weeks if the leave results from a pregnancy complication.

    A voluntary plan must meet or exceed these maximum leave durations. If a voluntary plan covers only Family Leave, the maximum leave duration must be 12 weeks or more.

    If a voluntary plan covers only medical Leave, the maximum leave duration must be 12 weeks or more, plus 2 weeks if a result from pregnancy complications.

    If a voluntary plan covers both family and medical leave, it must include a maximum leave duration of 16 weeks or more, plus 2 weeks if a result from pregnancy, in combination of both kinds of leave.

    Weekly Benefit

    The weekly benefit of the state plan is calculated using the following method:

    First, find the weekly average wage of the employee by taking the total wages over the two highest quarters during the qualifying period and dividing by 26.

    Second, determine if the weekly wage is greater than ½ the state average, $595 in 2018. If the employee’s average weekly wage is below ½ the state average, the employee’s weekly benefit is 90% of their average weekly wage.

    If the employee’s average weekly wage is greater than ½ the state average, first calculate 90% of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at the state average. This is the first number.

    Then take 50% of the employees’ average weekly wage that is above ½ the state average weekly wage. This is the second number.

    Add the first number and the second number together and the result is the weekly benefit amount.

    A voluntary plan must meet or exceed the benefit calculated here for each employee.

    Job Protection

    Voluntary plan employers have higher job protection requirements than the state plan. Job protection is available to employees if their voluntary plan employer has 50 or more employees. The employee must work for 9 months with that employer and 965 hours for that employer during the 12 months preceding the date leave will begin.

    When the employee returns from leave, they are entitled to:

    1. Return to a position of employment held by the employee when leave commenced; or
    2. Return to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.

    Using the voluntary plan benefits can’t result in the loss of employment benefits accrued before leave begins, or any other right, benefit or position of employment the employee would have been entitled to if they had not taken leave.

    An employer can, as a matter of policy:

    1. Request from the employee certification by the employee’s health care provider that the employee can resume work, as long this policy is uniformly enforced.
    2. Require periodic reporting from the employee their status and intention to return to work.

    An employer may deny job protection to a salaried employee who is among the highest paid ten percent of employees within seventy-five miles of the facility they work in if:

    1. Denial is necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the operations of the employer; and
    2. The employer notifies the employee of the intent of the employer to deny restoration on this basis at the time the employer determines that the injury would occur; and
    3. The leave has commenced and the employee elects not to return to employment after receiving the notice.

    A voluntary plan must meet or exceed all provisions in this job protection section.

    Health Benefits

    A voluntary plan employer must extend access to health benefits, in accordance with FMLA, while an employee is on leave. If an employee is responsible for a part, or all, of the cost of health benefits, an employer can require the employee to continue to pay for those benefits, but they must be offered while the employee is on leave.

    Frequency of Benefit Payment

    The state plan will issue the first payment within 14 days of receiving an application for benefits. After the initial payment, the benefit will be paid biweekly. A voluntary plan must be equal or issue payment more often.

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  • How do I apply?

    The Voluntary Plan application process is being developed over the summer of 2018. Applications will be submitted through an online tool. Applications are expected to be available in August 2018.

    We expect some changes to this process throughout 2018. Please use these guidelines to prepare and check our website for up-to-date information. Sign up for our newsletter to be alerted when new information is released.

    Before You Apply

    An employer who chooses to apply for a voluntary plan will need to develop a program that meets or exceeds the state plan. Before you start the application process you should have a voluntary plan that meets this requirement. 

    You will need a UBI, FEIN, and business name to apply for a voluntary plan.

    Completing the Application

    The voluntary plan application is organized in a series of questions about your plan. The application will not save the answers you provide it, so you should have the answers prepared in advance and complete the application in one sitting.

    The fee for applying for a Voluntary Plan is $250. This applies only to the initial application. Reapprovals for the first three years do not require a fee.

    Your application will not be considered complete until you have completed fee payment. You can pay by credit/debit card or check through the secure payment gateway at the end of the application process.

    After You Apply

    Once a Voluntary Plan is approved, it will go into effect on the first day of the following calendar quarter.

    You will need to have your plan reapproved each year for the first three years. After three years, you’ll need to reapply only if your plan changes. Reapproval in these first 3 years doesn’t require additional payment.

    If you are operating a Voluntary Plan, your employees will file claims for benefits directly with you or your designated third-party agent. It is important to remember that the employer bares the responsibility under this law, regardless of who it has delegated operation to.

    All reporting requirements of the state plan, which include wages and hours worked for all employees, will still be required of Voluntary Plan operators. Additionally, Voluntary Plan operators are required to report weekly benefit usage and leave information for employees who take leave.

    What if your application is denied?

    If your application for a voluntary plan is denied, your business must participate in the state plan. There is no penalty for being denied a voluntary plan. Your application fee is not refundable. Denials may be appealed.

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  • How do I file an appeal?

    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.

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How does Paid Leave work with small businesses?

  • Are small businesses exempt?

    Businesses of all sizes - from one employee to 100,000 are a part of this program. However, businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from paying the employer portion of the premium. 

    Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will:

    • Collect and remit employee premiums through paycheck withholding
    • Report employee wages, hours worked, and more on a quarterly basis

    The size of an employer will be calculated once a year. On Sept. 30 of each year, the department will average the number of employees reported by an employer over the last four completed calendar quarters. The number of employees counted will be used to determine employer premium responsibilities and eligibility for small business assistance grants.

    Even if you are exempt from FMLA or Unemployment Insurance (UI) requirements, you are more than likely required to particpate in this program. The only significant exemptions for Paid Family and Medical Leave are federal employers and employees, federally recognized tribes and sole-proprietors.

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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?

  • 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. Credentials (your username and password) will be administered by SecureAccess.wa.gov, a site many employers are familiar with from interractions 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.

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