WA Paid Family and Medical Leave Updated Providers’ Certification Forms
June 07, 2022
The Employment Security Department has updated their certification of a serious health condition forms. With new updated certification forms, employees can complete a medical certification form with their healthcare provider by the type of leave they are taking.
The available new forms are as follows:
- Certification form (pregnancy and birth)
- Certification form (family leave)
- Certification form (medical leave)
Additionally, employers subject to the WA PFML program should verify whether their wage report status for the first quarter has a credit or balance on their employer accounts. To check their wage report status, employers can log in and view their “Wage Submission History.” Further information is available in the Compliance Corner edition issued on March 1, 2022.
Employers with at least one employee in Washington State should be familiar with the new certification forms.
Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Documents and Forms »
Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML): Waiting Period Clarified
May 24, 2022
Recently, Washington State revised the waiting period rule under PFML that will take effect on June 9, 2022. Under the new definition, a "waiting period" is the first seven consecutive calendar days beginning with the Sunday of the first week an eligible employee starts taking paid family or medical leave. A waiting period does not reduce the maximum duration of an employee's available paid family or medical leave.
Employers should be aware of this recent update.
Washington PFML: Rulemaking »
Washington PFML: Amendments to Waiting Period, Proration and Weekly Claim Hours, and Petitions for Review »
Federal Court Dismisses WA Long-Term Cares Act Lawsuit
May 10, 2022
On April 25, 2022, Judge Zilly of the US District Court for the Western District of Washington dismissed a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of employers and employees challenging the WA Cares premium assessed at the rate of .58 percent of wages violated ERISA and other federal laws.
The federal court dismissed the lawsuit on the basis that the WA Cares Act is not established or maintained by an employer and/or employee organization and therefore, is not governed or preempted by ERISA. The Court also held that the premiums assessed by the WA Cares Act constitute a state tax. Because the federal court lacks jurisdiction over state tax, only state courts have jurisdiction to rule on the WA Cares Act.
Employers who have at least one employee working in Washington should monitor the developments as further updates and changes are expected in the coming months.
Washington DSHS: Federal Court Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Against WA Cares Fund »
Washington State: Paid Sick Leave Mandate for Rideshare Drivers
April 12, 2022
WA Cares Fund: Four New Exemptions and FAQs Added
March 29, 2022
Washington recently passed a new law (House Bill 1733) that added four additional groups that may apply for an exemption from the WA Cares Fund premium assessment.
The WA Cares Fund is the state’s mandatory long-term care (LTC) insurance program. Employers are required to collect WA Cares premiums of $0.58 per $100 of earnings for employees whose work is localized in Washington starting July 1, 2023. The benefit will be available to eligible employees beginning January 1, 2025. (See the articles on the background of this subject in the December 21, 2021, January 4, 2022, and February 1, 2022, editions of Compliance Corner.)
Effective January 1, 2023, employees can apply for the following exemptions if they meet the criteria.
- Living out of state – An employee who is employed by an employer in Washington but has a permanent address and primary residence outside of the state can apply for the exemption. If an employee changes his or her primary residence to Washington, the employee will no longer qualify for the exemption.
- Temporarily working in Washington with a nonimmigrant visa – A temporary worker who holds a nonimmigrant visa can apply for this exemption. If an employee’s nonimmigrant visa status changes and they become a permanent resident or citizen employed in Washington, the employee will no longer qualify for the exemption.
- A spouse or registered domestic partner of an active-duty military member – An employee must be married to or have a registered domestic partnership with an active-duty service member in the US armed forces to qualify for this exemption. The employee will lose qualification if the employee’s spouse or domestic partner is discharged or separated from military service or upon dissolution of the marriage or registered domestic partnership.
- A veteran of the US military with a 70% or greater service-connected disability – An employee must be rated by the US Department of Veterans Affairs as having a service-connected disability of 70% or greater to be qualified for this exemption. Once approved, this is a permanent exemption.
The Employment Security Department will be developing rules and providing information about what documents are required for these new exemption groups in the future.
The existing exemption for employees with private LTC insurance remains a one-time exemption and application period. Specifically, employees who purchased private insurance by November 1, 2021, and apply for an exemption by December 31, 2022, may be exempted from the WA LTC Cares mandate. Therefore, employers need to retain the copies of approved exemptions received from the employees.
The newly added FAQs state that employees must apply for exemptions on their own; employers cannot apply on behalf of the employees. Moreover, employers will collect WA Cares premiums from the same employees that premiums are collected for the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program. Although the PFML program sets a wage base cap on the premium contribution, WA Cares premiums do not have a wage base cap on its premium.
Employers should be aware of the new guidance and additional groups who may be eligible to apply for an exemption to the premium assessment.
House Bill 1733 »
WA Cares Fund – Main Site »
WA Cares Fund – Exemptions Site »
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) Confidentiality Law Enacted – Effective on June 9, 2022
March 15, 2022
On March 4, 2022, Gov. Inslee signed SB 5564 into law, which prohibits employers from obtaining individually identifiable information regarding an employee’s participation in an EAP program. Further, it will require employers to keep individually identifiable information gathered during EAP participation to be kept confidential. Additionally, an employee’s participation or nonparticipation in an EAP program should not be a factor in a decision affecting an employee’s job security, promotional opportunities, corrective or disciplinary action, or other employment rights. The law becomes effective on June 9, 2022.
The law provides a few exceptions to the requirements in the following circumstances:
- Disclosures to an employer of an employee’s EAP attendance if the employee was required to attend as a condition of continued employment;
- Disclosures are made to prevent or lessen a perceived threat to the health or safety of an individual or the public; or
- Disclosures that are permitted or required by law (RCW 18.225.105, 70.02.050, or 71.05.120)
Employers with Washington employees who provide or are considering implementing an EAP program should review the new privacy protection rules and prepare for compliance.
SB 5564 »
Amended Proclamation Prohibits Adverse Actions Against Vaccinated Employees
March 01, 2022
On February 17, 2022, Gov. Inslee issued a proclamation to continue a state of emergency in all counties of Washington State. Additionally, the proclamation prohibits employers from taking employment action against employees who:
- Receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
- Take a reasonable time off to receive a vaccination or recover from vaccination side effects.
- Take time off when the employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or advice to self-quarantine; or
- Wear a face covering while at work.
An adverse employment action is defined as any action taken or threatened by an employer against an employee for engaging in any of the above qualifying events. For instance, an adverse employment action includes termination, denial of paid leave and reduction of work hours.
This proclamation takes effect immediately. Employers who have employees in Washington should be aware of this update.
Proclamation 21-08.1 Safe Workers »
Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) Quarterly Employer Reports’ Status Check Feature
March 01, 2022
Employers who employ at least one employee in Washington State are subject to Washington PFML. One of the requirements of PFML is that covered employers must file a report and remit the required premium on a quarterly basis through the Employment Security Department’s SecureAccess.wa.gov portal.
The state recently announced that covered employers can view the status of submitted reports on their portals and verify that their filed reports are successfully processed. If a report fails to be processed, the status will show “Rejected.” Covered employers should ensure that their submitted reports are successfully processed by checking the status section after their reports are filed on their portals.
For more information, the following PFML site is helpful:
Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave »
Long-Term Care Tax (“WA Cares Fund”) Implementation Delayed Until July 1, 2023
February 01, 2022
On January 27, 2022, Gov. Inslee signed into law an 18-month delay of the effective date of the state’s new long-term care (LTC) program, the Washington Cares Fund. The original effective date was January 1, 2022; the new effective date is July 1, 2023. This means that employers who have employees in the state of Washington do not need to start collecting the WA Cares Fund payroll tax of 0.58% of the employee’s wages until July 1, 2023. (See the articles on the background of this subject in the December 21, 2021, and January 4, 2022, editions of Compliance Corner.)
Because this legislative enactment to delay the implementation of the program came after the original payroll collection effective date of January 1, 2022, some employers might have already begun collecting the premium tax from their employees’ wages. If so, the employers are required to refund any premiums collected from the employees within 120 days of the collection. Further, if the employers have already remitted the collected premiums to the Employment Security Department (ESD), the ESD is required to refund those premiums to the employers within 120 days of the collection. Employers are then required to return the collected premiums to the employees.
In addition to the delay of the premium tax collection start date, the benefits’ availability for the LTC program is now delayed until July 1, 2026, from January 1, 2025.
The decision to delay the implementation timeline came in response to the public criticism of some elements of the law. For instance, under the benefit eligibility requirements, an employee had to contribute to the program for at least 10 years before taking the benefits. As a result, employees close to retirement were disadvantaged because their benefits would not be vested even though they would be required to contribute to the program while employed. In response, under the newly revised law, individuals born before January 1, 1968, may receive partial benefits even if they have not paid the premiums for at least 10 years.
Employers with employees working in Washington should be aware of the delay in the payroll tax collection until July 1, 2023, and should communicate and coordinate with their payroll vendor on the new timeline.
House Bill 1732 »
House Bill 1733 »
WA PFML Poster and Resources Updated, and the New 2022 Rates Reminder
January 04, 2022
To prepare for the 2022 PFML program, the WA Employment Security Department recently updated the following resources for employers:
- Mandatory poster: Employers need to replace the 2021 workplace poster with the new poster in breakrooms or share it with employees electronically.
- Premium calculator: The calculator can be used to verify the amount an employer needs to remit the PFML premiums to the state.
- Employer toolkit: The guide describes how to calculate premiums, how to report for Paid Leave and general information about the program.
- Optional paystub insert: This sample letter can be used to inform employees of the new premiums.
Starting January 1, 2022, the total WA PFML 2022 premium rate increased for the first time to 0.6% of the employees’ gross wages up to the 2022 Social Security cap ($147,000) from 0.4% of the employees’ gross wages in 2021. (We discussed this rate increase in the November 9, 2021 edition of Compliance Corner.) For an employer with 50 or more employees, the total premium is split between an employer and employees. The employer contribution is 26.78% of the total premiums, and the employee contribution is 73.22% of the total premiums. If an employer has fewer than 50 employees, the employer contribution is waived, and the employer will remit the employee premiums only.
The weekly benefit amount is 90% of an employee’s average weekly wage, up to the maximum weekly benefit amount of $1,327 in 2022.
WA PFML Documents and Forms »