Are You Ready for Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave?

In 2017, Washington state passed the Paid Family and Medical Leave program, which is a statewide insurance program. The purpose of this program is for Washington workers to receive partial wages while on leave for qualifying events. The program will be administered by the state Employment Security Department (ESD).

Paid Family and Medical Leave will require premiums to be collected from both employers and their employees in 2019. Eligible employees can start applying for benefits on January 1, 2020. This insurance program is not the same as, nor is it replacing, paid sick leave, which does not require premiums to be paid by employers or employees.

The premium for 2019 will be 0.4 percent of an employee’s gross pay. Employers and employees split this amount, with one third paid by the employer, and two thirds paid by the employee. An employer can elect to pay part or all of the employee’s share of the premium, and are not required to pay any of the employer premium if they have less than 50 employees. For examples and more information, visit the ESD Paid Family and Medical Leave premium page.

ESD will be hosting free webinars to answer questions and offer information to employers about how they can prepare for the implementation of this mandatory program. These webinars will be offered throughout 2018, and ESD has a webinars website with a schedule of dates.

The rulemaking process will have several phases of development, and ESD seeks feedback from the public as they draft the rules. To participate in this process, visit the ESD Rulemaking Public Engagement Portal and attend a rulemaking listening session or an advisory committee meeting.

The implementation of this program is a three-year, $82 million undertaking, and ESD is recruiting for several positions, which can be found on their hiring page.

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