Voluntary plans are employer-run paid family and/or medical leave insurance programs. Employers can choose to use a voluntary plan for family leave, medical leave or both. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, all Washington employers must offer paid family and medical leave whether it's through a voluntary plan or the state plan. Employers must apply and be approved to operate a voluntary plan. For more information, visit our voluntary plan page.
The benefits available to employees covered by a voluntary plan must meet or exceed the state plan's benefits. Benefits must also be extended to all employees of the applying business.
Employers must apply and be approved to operate a voluntary plan. Applications can be submitted through an online tool, which is under development and expected to become available in late summer 2018.
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. All voluntary plan applications will be subject to a $250 fee, except for mandated renewals.
If a voluntary plan is denied, employees are covered under the state plan.
Best practices for voluntary plan submission
1. Read the Voluntary Plan Guide to prepare;
2. Identify the gaps in existing policy from the Paid Family and Medical Leave program requirements;
3. Stipulate the leave entitlement specific to Paid Family and Medical Leave;
4. Provide sufficient details for determination review;
5. Ensure definitions match those required under the law (for example: definition of family).