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Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave

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Starting in 2020, Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to offer paid family and medical leave benefits to workers. The program will be funded by premiums paid by both employees and many employers, and will be administered by the Employment Security Department (ESD). This insurance program will allow workers to take up to 12 weeks, as needed, when they welcome a new child into their family, are struck by a serious illness or injury, need to take care of an ill or ailing relative, or for certain military connected events. If workers experience multiple events in a given year, they may be eligible to receive up to 16 weeks, or up to 18 weeks in certain limited circumstances.

Paid Family and Medical Leave is an insurance program funded through premiums paid by employers and workers. As directed by the Legislature, premium assessment commenced on January 1, 2019 and benefits can be taken starting January 1, 2020. The total premium is 0.4% of an employee’s gross wages. All employers may either withhold employees’ premiums from their paychecks or pay some or all of the premium on their employees’ behalf. Employers who choose to withhold premiums from their employees may withhold up to 63.33% of the total premium, which is 0.4% of an employee’s gross wages, capped at $132,900 (social security cap for 2019). The employer is responsible for paying the other 36.67% of the 0.4% and remitting total premiums to ESD on a quarterly basis starting April 2019.

All Washington employers, including out-of-state employers with Washington employees, are required to participate with few exceptions. Generally speaking, federal employers and employees, federally recognized tribes and self-employed individuals are exempt from the program, but tribes and people who are self-employed may opt in. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of premiums, but must remit employee premiums and employee wages, hours worked, and other information for all employees.

If you would like additional clarification, please visit the Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave website: https://paidleave.wa.gov/


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