How do I pay premiums?

Paid Family and Medical Leave is an insurance program funded through premiums paid by employers and workers. 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% of the total premium. The employer is responsible for paying the other 37% and remitting total premiums to ESD on a quarterly basis starting April 2019.

Key details

  • 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% 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, $128,400 in 2018.

Summary

Washington's Paid Family and Medical Leave is organized as an insurance program. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, most employers will collect up to 63% of each employee's Paid Family and Medical Leave premium from their paychecks. Employers may elect to pay all or some of their employees' premiums on their behalf.

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 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 (learn more about how we calculate the number of employees a business has, read our employer page).

Employers operating an approved voluntary plan should refer to the voluntary plan page for details about premium collection in that circumstance.

Premium calculation

If an employer is using the state plan for both family and medical leave and 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.

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 30

April – June

July 30

July – September

October 31

October – December

January 31

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 employment 

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.