Support for employees, stability for companies

Washington workers will be able to use Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits starting in 2020. These benefits will generally allow up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year to care for yourself or your family. This is a statewide insurance program, so workers and employers will contribute premiums together through payroll withholding.

How does Paid Family and Medical Leave work?

  • Am I eligible for benefits?

    Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits will be available starting Jan. 1, 2020.

    To qualify for Paid Family and Medical Leave, you must work 820 hours or more in the qualifying period. The qualifying period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters starting from the day you intend to take leave.

    This benefit cannot be taken without a qualifying event. Leave events can be either Family or Medical.

    Family Leave

    • Care and bond after a baby’s birth or the placement of a child younger than 18
    • Care for a family member experiencing an illness or medical event
    • Certain military-connected events

    Medical Leave

    • Care for yourself in relation to an illness or medical event
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  • What do the benefits cover?

    When the benefits of Paid Family and Medical Leave become available in 2020, if you are eligible, you will be entitled to take up to 12 weeks (18 weeks in limited special circumstances) of paid leave. Washington's law includes partial wage replacement, and your benefits will depend on how much you earn in a typical week. 

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  • How much does it cost?

    Washington's Paid Family and Medical Leave Program is organized as an insurance program, and like most insurance programs, it is funded through premiums. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, most employers will be required to withhold premiums from their employee's paychecks, and many employers will be required to pay into the program, too. The good news is that Paid Family and Medical Leave is a very affordable program: if your typical paycheck is $2,000 in gross wages, about $5 will be witheld for premiums.

    The Details

    As an example, an employee has earned $2,500 gross pay in a single pay period. The premium is 0.4% in 2019.

    Total Premium Calculation

    $2,500 * .004  = $10.

    In this example, the total premium would be $10.

    An employer may choose to pay this entire premium on their own. If they choose to withhold a portion from their employees, the maximum they may withhold can be calculated:

    The Employee Portion

    Family Leave: $10 * .3333 = $3.33

    Medical Leave: $10 * .3000 = $3.00

    The Employer Portion

    Medical Leave: $10 * .3667 = $3.67

    In this example, the employee would have $6.33 ($3.33 + $3.00) withheld from their paycheck. The employer would remit employee and employer portions and quarterly to the Employment Security Department.

    If the employer had fewer than 50 employees, they would not be 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.

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  • Is participation in the program mandatory?

    Generally, yes: Nearly everyone who works in Washington will participate in the program.

    Exceptions include workers who are:

    • Federal employees.
    • Employed by a federally recognized tribe.
    • Subject to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that was in existence on or before Oct. 19, 2017.
    • Self-employed.

    Important details:

    • Self-employed people may opt in to gain access to the benefit.
    • Employees covered under a CBA that was in existence on or before Oct. 19, 2017 are not subject to the rights or responsibilities of paid family and medical leave until the agreement is reopened, renegotiated, or expires. You will not pay premiums or be eligible for leave until the CBA is reopened, renegotiated, or expires.
    • Some employers may choose to offer benefits through a private plan called a voluntary plan. If your employer has an approved voluntary plan, they are required to offer benefits that are equal to or greater than the state plan.

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How do I file a claim?

  • How do I manage my Paid Family & Medical Leave account?

    When you apply for benefits (starting in 2020), you will be able to set up a customer account with Employment Security Department to apply for and manage your claim. The application and benefit payment processes will be customer-focused, and we anticipate designing a simple, fast and friendly experience. This page will be updated with more information when it is available.

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