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.
    3. A mandatory poster to notify employees of the program will be available before Jan. 1, 2020. If you would like something to share with your employees prior to that, download our optional paystub insert to distribute or post.

    Collective bargaining agreements

    Nothing in the Paid Family and Medical Leave law requires any party to a collective bargaining agreement in existence on October 19, 2017, to reopen negotiations of the agreement or to apply any of the rights and responsibilities under the law unless and until the existing agreement is reopened or renegotiated by the parties or expires. This is outlined in RCW 50A.04.235 and is covered in further detail in WAC 192-520-010.

    How does Paid Family and Medical Leave work for employees covered by a CBA?

    If you have employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that was in effect before Oct. 19, 2017, unless and until the agreement expires, is reopened, or renegotiated:

    • Do not withhold premiums from these employees.
    • Do not pay the employer share of the premium for these employees.
    • Do not include these employees on your quarterly reports.

     

    I have some employees covered by a CBA and some employees who are not covered. How does this affect me?

    Employers are subject to the rights and responsibilities of Paid Family and Medical Leave for all employees not covered by a CBA, regardless of whether you are party to a CBA covering other employees. If an employee is not covered by a CBA, you must:

    • Either withhold the employee share of the premium from their paycheck or choose to pay all or some of it on their behalf.
    • Include them in your quarterly report.
    • Remit the employer share of the premium.

     

    What happens when the CBA is reopened, renegotiated, or expires?

    You must inform us immediately upon the reopening, renegotiation, or expiration of a CBA that was in effect prior to Oct. 19, 2017, and:

    • Either begin withholding premiums from covered employees or choose to pay some or all of the premium on their behalf.
    • Begin including covered employees in your quarterly report.

    However, for the purposes of Paid Family and Medical Leave, only CBAs that have been renegotiated in their entirety meet the definition of reopened, renegotiated, or expired; A memorandum of understanding (MOU) covering a narrow or specific section of a CBA does not constitute a reopening or renegotiation.

    For example, MOUs to accommodate the new paid sick leave law are not considered a reopening or renegotiation. This includes MOUs to expand the collectively bargained definition of family, accrual rates, and reasons for usage under the new paid sick leave law. Negotiations of future contracts do not constitute a reopening or renegotiation either.

     

    Are my employees eligible to take paid family or paid medical leave?

    Employees covered by a CBA that was reopened, renegotiated, or expired after Oct. 19, 2017 will be eligible if they worked at least 820 hours during the qualifying period and experience a qualifying event, even when the hours were worked prior to the CBA being reopened, renegotiated, or expired. When that employee applies for leave, we will request you provide their hours and associated wages from the qualifying period to verify eligibility.

     

    How do I calculate premiums for employees covered by a CBA?

    Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that was in effect before Oct. 19, 2017 do not pay premiums unless and until the agreement expires, is reopened, or renegotiated.

    For employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that was in effect on or after Oct. 19, 2017, you calculate premiums the same way you would for employees not covered by a CBA:

    • The premium for 2019 is 0.4 percent of an employee's gross wages, up to the Social Security cap ($132,900 for 2019).
    • Under the law, employers may split the cost of the program with employees by withholding up to 63.33 percent of the premium from their paychecks. However, employers can elect to pay all or some of their employees' share of the premium on their behalf.
    • If an employer opts not to cover any of their employee's share of the premium, the employer will pay 36.67 percent of their employee's total premium and the employee will pay 63.33 percent.

     

    What if I didn’t withhold premiums from my employees?

    Program rules related to when an employer can deduct premiums from employees are detailed in WAC 192-510-065.

    • If you did not start collecting premiums from employees on Jan. 1, 2019, there is no penalty and you can begin withholding at any time.
    • You must notify your employees one pay period in advance of beginning to withhold premiums.

    You cannot retroactively withhold premiums from employees. You will be responsible for paying any missed premiums on their behalf.

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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. All employers may either withhold employees' premiums from their paychecks or pay some or all of the premium on their employees’ behalf. The premium for 2019 is 0.4 percent of an employee's gross wages.

    • Detailed information on calculating and remitting premiums, defining gross wages and exemptions is posted on the premiums page
    • Estimate your premiums using our premium calculator.

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  • How do I report employee hours and wages?

    Employers reported quarters one and two in our new online reporting tool from July 1 to August 31. Quarter 3 reporting runs Oct. 1-31, 2019.

    Typically, reporting periods will follow calendar quarters and will be aligned with reporting periods for Unemployment Insurance (UI). However, reporting for Paid Family and Medical Leave is separate from UI and will be completed through a different online tool.

    Please note: The quarterly reports referenced in WAC 192-540-030 must be submitted by the last day of the month following the end of the calendar quarter being reported. If a reporting date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday, the reports will be due on the next business day.

    Find more information on our reporting page.

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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.

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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 you. They qualify by working 820 hours in the qualifying period, verified by employer reporting.

    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 you 30 days’ notice of their intention to take leave.

    You will be notified of the employee’s claim for leave. A process for you to dispute the employee's 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 you have 50 or more employees, the employee is eligible for job protection provided they have worked for you for 12 months or longer and have worked 1,250 hours in the year to date before the first day of leave. 

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