Find out how paid leave works

Find out how Paid Leave works

When you need it most.

Paid Family and Medical Leave provides paid time off when you need it most. It’s here for you when a serious health condition prevents you from working, when you need time to care for a family member or a new child, or for certain military-related events.

Questions? Visit the Help Center.

When can you take Paid Leave?

There are two main types of Paid Leave available:

1. Medical leave

When a serious health condition prevents you from working.

For example, you can qualify because of a major surgery, for bed rest during pregnancy, to receive treatment for a chronic health condition and to receive inpatient treatment for substance abuse or mental health. The amount of paid leave you can take is determined by your medical provider (up to 12 weeks a year).

2. Family leave (includes bonding leave and military family leave)

You can take paid time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or if you’re bonding with a new baby or child in your family. Military family leave allows you to spend time with a family member who is about to be deployed overseas or is returning from overseas deployment.

You may use family leave to care for:

  • Spouses and domestic partners
  • Children (biological, adopted, foster or stepchild)
  • Parents and legal guardians (or spouse’s parents)
  • Siblings
  • Grandchildren
  • Grandparents (or spouse’s grandparents)
  • Son-in-law and daughter-in-law

You must have worked 820 hours in the last year.

Nearly every worker can qualify for Paid Leave if you worked a minimum of 820 hours (about 16 hours a week) in Washington over the last year.


Full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal work count.

All hours you work in Washington count toward eligibility, even if you work multiple jobs or switch employers.


Certain workers are not automatically eligible for Paid Leave:

  • Federal employees
  • People employed by businesses located on tribal land
  • Self-employed people who do not opt into the state program
  • Workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement that hasn’t expired, been reopened or renegotiated since Oct. 19, 2017. (You may not be eligible yet. Ask your employer or union representative if you are unsure if this applies to you.)
  • Workers covered by their employer’s approved voluntary plan

Application process

  1. Notify your employer at least 30 days before you plan to take leave (if the event is foreseeable)
  2. Experience a qualifying event
  3. Apply for leave (please wait to apply until after your qualifying event)
  4. Receive a determination letter in the mail
  5. Waiting week begins (exceptions: bonding leave or military exigency don’t have a waiting week)
  6. File weekly claims to get paid (you may have an unpaid waiting week)

How much time do I get?

Within your claim year, you can take:

Up to 12 weeks of medical leave or family leave. Medical leave is for recovering from or getting treatment for a serious health condition. Family leave is for taking care of a qualifying family member who has a serious health condition, for bonding with a new child or for certain military events.

Up to 16 weeks of combined medical and family leave if you have more than one qualifying event in the same claim year. This could include medical leave for giving birth, then family leave to bond with your baby. Or you could qualify for family leave to care for a family member, then medical leave for yourself within the same year.

Up to 18 weeks of combined medical and family leave if you experience a condition in pregnancy that results in incapacity, like being put on bed rest or having a complicated delivery. There is a checkbox on the Certification of Serious Health Condition form where your healthcare provider should certify that your serious health condition is related to pregnancy.

Using your Paid Leave.

A little at a time, or all at once: You do not have to take your Paid Leave all at once. But you must claim eight consecutive hours of leave each week, or claim zero hours if taking intermittent leave. For example, you can take one day off a week to care for a family member undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Or you can take your leave in full weeks to recover from your own major surgery.

How much will I get paid?

When you take Paid Leave, you can receive up to 90% of your weekly pay—up to a maximum of $1,000 a week in 2020 (the maximum increases to $1,206 in 2021). Use our calculator to find out about how much your pay could be:

Estimate My Pay


Get your weekly pay as a direct deposit or prepaid credit card

A direct deposit to your bank is only available if you file online. A prepaid credit card is like a gift card you can use anywhere.

File My Weekly Claim


Job protection

Your employer is not required to keep your job for you if any of the following is true:

  • You work for a company that employs fewer than 50 people
  • You’ve worked for the company for less than a year
  • You’ve worked less than 1,250 hours (about 24 hours a week) for the company in the year before you took leave