Washington was the second state in the nation to pass a paid family leave law in 2007, but it was continually put on hold for about a decade because of funding questions. However, in 2017, Washington approved an insurance plan to fund the state’s program, and benefits will now be available beginning in 2020.
All employers in Washington are covered by the paid family leave law with contributions from employees. The program is funded by a combination of employer and employee contributions through payroll deductions beginning in 2019. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer share of the premiums, but they must still collect the employee's share and send it to the state – all of which will be handled through payroll processing.
For 2019 and 2020, employee and employer contributions combined will equal 0.4 percent of the employee’s wages. As the employer, you’ll pay about 37 percent of the total premium. Your employees will pay the remainder of the premium, about 63 percent. The effective premium rate equals 0.1467% for the employer portion and 0.2533% for the employee portion.
Premium earnings will be capped at the maximum wage level subject to taxation for Social Security ($132,900 in 2019).
If you have employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that was in existence on or before October 19, 2017, they are not subject to the rights or responsibilities of paid family and medical leave until the agreement is reopened, renegotiated, or expires. You do not need to withhold premiums from these employees or pay the employer share of their premium until the CBA is reopened, renegotiated, or expires.
Beginning in 2020, Washington’s paid family leave law will pay benefits for both family leave and medical leave after a qualifying event once the employee has worked the requisite 820 hours. Medical leave is time off for the employee to recover from a serious health condition. Family leave includes time off:
- to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth or placement by adoption,
- to care for a family member—including a spouse, child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, or sibling—with a serious health condition, or
- to attend to certain matters arising out of a family member’s call to active military duty (called a “qualifying exigency”) as defined under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
WANT TO LEARN MORE OR HAVE QUESTIONS? For the latest updates, full details, and additional information, visit the Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave site here. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.206.1099.
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