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Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave

Beginning January 1, 2020, employees who have worked at least 820 hours in employment in the last four completed calendar quarters will be eligible for between 12 to 18 weeks of leave annually to:

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

Who does the new law apply to?

The law applies to all employers with employees in the State of Washington, even employers with fewer than 50 employees.

What are the employer’s responsibilities?

In 2019, employers will be responsible for reporting wages and hours worked for their Washington based employees and remitting premium.  The reporting website is currently under development.  The first required reporting and premium remittance will be for the first quarter of 2019 and is due April 30, 2019.

The premium will be .4% of gross wages paid each quarter to Washington employees.  Employers with more than 50 employees are required to pay 37% of the premium and can withhold the remaining 63% of the premium from the employee.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees can withhold the entire premium from the employee.  However, if employers choose to pay a portion of the premium, they may apply for Small Business Assistance.

What leave is available for employees?

Effective January 1, 2020, employees who work at least 820 hours in the last four of five calendar quarters before the leave is scheduled to start will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave.

An employee with a serious health condition with a pregnancy that results in incapacity may be eligible for up to 18 weeks of leave.

The amount of payment received is based on the employee’s income.

  • If the employee earns 50% or less than the state average weekly wage, the employee’s weekly benefit will be 90% of the state average weekly wage. The minimum weekly benefit is expected to be $100 in 2020.
  • If the employee earns greater than 50% of the state average weekly wage, the employee’s weekly benefit will be based on a formula*. The maximum weekly benefit is expected to be $1,000 in 2020.

*Benefit calculation formula:  the sum of 90% of the employee’s average weekly wage up to 50% of the state average; and 50% of the employee’s average weekly wage that is greater than 50% of the state average weekly wage.

For more information, and updates visit the Washington State Employment Security Department Page.

The State also has an employer tool kit.

Karen Hooper

About the author

Karen Hooper

VP, Senior Compliance Manager

Karen Hooper, CEBS, CMS, Fellow, is a Vice President and Senior Compliance Manager working closely with the Lead Benefit Counsel in Newfront's Employee Benefits division. She works closely with internal staff and clients regarding compliance issues, providing information, education and training.

The information provided is of a general nature and an educational resource. It is not intended to provide advice or address the situation of any particular individual or entity. Any recipient shall be responsible for the use to which it puts this document. Newfront shall have no liability for the information provided. While care has been taken to produce this document, Newfront does not warrant, represent or guarantee the completeness, accuracy, adequacy, or fitness with respect to the information contained in this document. The information provided does not reflect new circumstances, or additional regulatory and legal changes. The issues addressed may have legal, financial, and health implications, and we recommend you speak to your legal, financial, and health advisors before acting on any of the information provided.

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