New Paid Family & Medical Leave Program In Effect January 2020

Starting in January 2020, Washington state will become the fifth state in the country to offer paid family and medical leave.

What Is Paid Family and Medical Leave?

Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave assessment begins in January of 2019, and benefits will start in January of 2020. This insurance program will allow employees to take up to 12 weeks off of work after significant family, medical, and certain military circumstances.

What Are the Qualifying Events?

Benefits can only be taken as a result of a qualifying event, and only by employees who work 820 hours or more in the qualifying period (the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you plan on taking leave). Qualifying events include the addition of a family member (birth or adoption), serious illness or injury, call to caretake an ailing family member, or specific military-connected events.

What Do Employers Need to Do?

Beginning in January 1919, employers should continue to report wages and hours worked, and begin to collect premiums. Toward the end of 2019, workplaces will need to display a mandatory poster informing all employees of the new insurance program. An optional pay stub insert with pertinent information is also available. If your business has under 50 employees, you are not required to pay the employer part (roughly 37%) of the total insurance premium. You may also offer an approved voluntary paid leave insurance program instead of the state plan, as long as the benefits match or exceed the state plan’s benefits. Businesses can submit applications for a voluntary plan online with a $250 fee. If a voluntary paid leave plan is approved, employers still need to report state wages and hours worked for all employees.

What Do Employees Need to Do?

Starting in January 2020, employees can create an account with the Employment Security Department to apply and manage their claims. Employees will be required to pay into the program, and total premium payments are only 0.4% of gross wages, with employers responsible for approximately 37% of that while employees cover the last 63%. Federal employees, those employed with a federally recognized tribe, or those that are self-employed, may choose to be exempt from the program and paying into the premium.

Find more information on the 2020 Washington State Paid Family & Medical Leave Plan on the Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave website. You can also sign up for the Employment Security Department’s newsletter for updates.