Beginning January 1, 2020, employees in Washington can take leave and collect benefits under the state’s new Paid Family & Medical Leave program (PFML). Under the new program, Washington employees who qualify will be eligible for a maximum of 12 weeks of partially paid leave. This leave runs concurrently with FMLA. To qualify for leave, an employee must have worked 820 hours within a 12 month period of the qualifying life event that gives rise to the leave. The employee must be qualified before taking the leave.
The state’s PFML program is like an insurance program whereby employers and employees split the premiums. Employers can withhold up to 63.33% of the premium from employee wages and the employer portion is 36.67%. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not obligated to pay a portion; however, they are required to remit the employee’s portion as well as other information about the employee’s wages and hours worked.
An employer who fails to make required reports under the PFML program is subject to penalties. For the second occurrence, the penalty is $75. For the third occurrence, the penalty is $150. For the fourth and each subsequent occurrence, the penalty is $250.
An employer who fails to remit the full amount of premiums when they are due is liable for the full amount of premiums plus interest. In addition, the employer may be subject to liens, loss of a bond, or injunctions.
Employers have the option to create their own plans for paid family leave, called voluntary plans. They must meet or exceed PFML requirements, maintain certain records to ensure portability of the benefit between employers, and obtain state approval.
Employers with employees in State of Washington should be mindful of these requirements, and work with outside counsel to incorporate them into their leave policies.
SB 5975 »
Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Website »