Paid Family and Medical Leave is an insurance program funded through premiums paid by employers and workers. The initial premium will be 0.4% and can be adjusted annually after 2020 by the Employment Security Department, according to rules set by the statute. Employers start collecting premiums on Jan. 1, 2019. All employers may either withhold employees' premiums from their paychecks or pay some or all of the premium on their employees’ behalf. Employers who choose to withhold premiums from their employees may withhold up to 63.33% of the total premium. The employer is responsible for paying the other 36.67% and remitting total premiums to ESD on a quarterly basis starting April 2019.
- The premium for 2019 is 0.4% of an employee's gross wages. To estimate your premiums, use the calculation below or our premium calculator.
- Under the law, employers may split the cost of the program with employees by withholding up to 63.33% of the premium from their paychecks.
- An employer can elect to pay all or some of their employees' share of the premium on their behalf.
- Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium.
- Premium withholdings are capped at the Social Security cap, $132,900 in 2019.
- Employers operating an approved voluntary plan should refer to the voluntary plan page for details about premium collection specific to voluntary plans.
What are gross wages?
In Paid Family and Medical Leave, wages are generally referred to as gross wages without tips. Gross wages include, but are not limited to, salary or hourly wages, sick leave, vacation leave, holiday pay, bereavement leave and paid time off, bonuses, stocks as part of a compensation package and the cash value of meals and lodging when given as compensation.
Wages are defined in statute (RCW 50A.04.010) as the remuneration paid by an employer to an employee (up to the Social Security cap for premium assessment).
If an employer opts not to cover any of their employee's share of the premium, they will pay about 37% of their employee's total premium, and the employee will pay about 63%. You can estimate your premiums using our premium calculator or by using the calculation detailed below.
An employee 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 the minimum employer and maximum employee shares.
Maximum employee share
$10 * .6333 = $6.33
$6.33 is the total maximum employee share of the premium.
Minimum employer share
$10 * .3667 = $3.67
The employee contributes $6.33. The employer contributes $3.67.
- 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.
Premiums will be reported quarterly and will need to be remitted before the end of the month after each completed calendar quarter.
Payment due before
January – March
April – June
July – September
October – December
The online tool employers will use to pay premiums is currently in development. More information will be posted here when details about this process are available, and you can sign up for our newsletter to receive updates about this process.
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.
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.