Effective January 1, 2019, Washington will launch a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program. The program will be funded by both employer and employee payroll contributions. The program is intended to provide wage replacement and job protection to employees who need time away from their jobs to tend to family or medical needs.
Below are some frequently asked questions for employees about the program. For more information on the program, please contact the Washington state customer care team:
Phone: (833) 717-2273
Employee Frequently Asked Questions
How does the program work and am I eligible for the benefits?
Premium collections will begin January 2019 and 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.
- 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
- Care for yourself in relation to an illness or medical event
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.
Is 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.
- Employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that was in existence on or before Oct. 19, 2017.
- Self-employed. Note: Self-employed people may opt in to gain access to the benefit.
- Employees who are covered by an employer's voluntary plan (which has been approved by the state.)
How are the premiums calculated?
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.
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.
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.