Is participation in the program mandatory?

Nearly all employers in Washington state have responsibilities under the Paid Family and Medical Leave program, including small businesses, state and local government agencies and non-profits, faith organizations and other typically tax-exempt associations. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of premiums, but must remit employee premiums and report employee wages, hours and more to ESD. Federal employees, federally recognized tribes and self-employed people are exempt from this program, but federally recognized tribes and self-employed workers may opt in.

Voluntary plans may be an option for an employer who want to operate their own paid family and/or medical leave programs. Employers must apply and be approved to operate a voluntary plan. 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. More information is available on our voluntary plan page.