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.

    There are two things that need to happen for you to be eligible to apply for benefits: you need to work 820 hours in the qualifying period and experience a qualifying 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?

    Paid Family and Medical Leave is an insurance program funded through premiums paid by nearly everyone working in Washington and many of their employers. The rate for 2019 is 0.4 percent of a worker's wage, about 63 percent of which is paid by the worker and about 37 percent is paid by the employer. Employers can opt to cover some or all their employees' premiums. Premium collection began on Jan. 1, 2019. 

    Example: 

    • A worker makes $50,000 a year.
      • Worker pays about $2.44 a week.
      • Their employer pays about $1.41 a week.
      • Worker receives a benefit of about $731 per week when out on Paid Family and Medical Leave.

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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
    • 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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