Washington Increases PFML Rates and Weekly Benefit for 2022

Effective January 1, 2022, the premium rate for Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) will increase to 0.6% (from 0.4% in 2021) of each employee’s gross wages up to the 2022 Social Security cap ($147,000).

Employers with 50 or more employees working in the state of Washington will pay 26.78% of the 0.6% premium (0.161% of wages) and employees will pay 73.22% (0.439% of wages).

Employers with at least one employee but fewer than 50 employees working in the state of Washington are obligated to payroll deduct 73.22% (0.439% of wages) of the 0.6%. Employers can always choose to pay the 0.161% even though not obligated and can apply for small business assistance.

This is the first rate increase for PFML since payroll deductions began in 2019. According to the Washington Employment Security Department’s October 2021 Employer Newsletter, “Washington workers are finding value in Paid Leave.  They are using the program as intended, and it’s allowing them to take care of themselves and their loved ones when they need it most.”

The PFML premium rate is recalculated annually and is adjusted based on program utilization levels during the previous year.  Higher PFML usage and reduced payroll tax revenue to fund the benefit during the pandemic are primarily responsible for the increase in 2022.

The maximum PFML weekly benefit will also increase to ,327 for leaves beginning in 2022 (from ,206 in 2021).

What Leave is Available for Employees, and How Much will They be Paid?

The PFML program began in 2020.  Employees who have worked at least 820 hours in the last four completed calendar quarters became eligible for between 12 to 18 weeks of PFML annually to:

  • Care and bond after a baby’s birth or placement of a child younger than 18

  • Care for a family member (or an individual who has an expectation to rely on the employee for care) experiencing an illness or medical event

  • Certain military connected events

  • Care for themselves in relation to an illness or medical event.

Employees can take up to 12 weeks of medical or family leave under the PFML program, and up to 16 weeks if they have more than one qualifying event in the same claim year.  Employees who experience a condition in pregnancy that results in incapacity like bed rest or having a C-section can take up to 18 weeks of combined PFML.

The PFML benefit amount is based on the employee’s income.  Employees can receive up to 90% of their weekly pay to a maximum of ,327 for leaves beginning on or after January 1, 2022.

What Leave is Available for Employees, and How Much will They be Paid?

  • Employers are responsible for notifying employees of the PFML program by posting a notice or sending the notice to employees.

  • Employers are responsible for collecting employee premium as outlined above.

  • Every quarter all employers must complete and file a report and pay the PFML premiums. Beginning January 1, 2022, employers will also begin collecting and remitting WA Cares premiums from employees.  The Employment Security Department is updating the portal to allow payment of both premiums through the same portal.

 For more information on WA Cares Long Term Care Program, see our previous mini-alert:  Washington Long-Term Care Insurance Payroll tax Begins 2022.

The Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Website details both employee and employer responsibilities.

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 here is of a general nature only and is not intended to provide advice. For more detail about how this information may be treated, see our General Terms of Use.