Washington state Paid Family and Medical Leave guide

What are state paid family and medical leave laws?

State paid family and medical leave laws provide for paid leave from work for eligible employees based on certain qualifying life events, such as the birth or adoption of a child, to care for oneself or a family member who is experiencing a serious medical condition, or to care for a family member injured while on active duty in the military, among others. Employees receive a weekly benefit which represents a portion of their regular compensation based upon a state created formula.

We've compiled a review of the state of Washington's Paid Family and Medical Leave to ensure you're aware of key upcoming dates and the requirements to ensure your compliance.

Washington state Paid Family and Medical Leave

  • Employee Eligibility Criteria:
    • Almost all Washington employers are subject to the plan, with most employees being eligible for benefits. Exceptions include federally recognized tribes, federal employees, self-employed individuals, and some employees subject to collective bargaining agreements.
    • Employees must have worked a minimum of 820 hours during the qualifying period (approximately the last year).
  • Weekly Benefit Amount:
    • Employees can receive up to 90% of their weekly pay up to a maximum benefit of $1,000.00 per week.
  • Employee and/or Employer Contributions to the program:
    • Employer and Employee funded.
    • Total contribution of 0.4% of employee gross wages up to the Social Security wage base which is $137,700.00 for 2020 (and $142,800.00 for 2021).
      • Employees are responsible for approximately 2/3 of the premium payable through payroll deduction, or an employer can elect to pay the employee portion on the employee’s behalf.
      • If an employer has 50 or more employees, then the employer is responsible for approximately 1/3 of the premium.
      • If an employer has fewer than 50 employees, but elects to pay 1/3 of the premium anyway, then the employer can receive additional benefits for his/her business.
    • Duration of Leave:
      • Up to 18 weeks per year, with 12 weeks being the standard allowable duration.
        • Employees may qualify for 16 weeks of paid leave after giving birth or if they have a personal medical event and a family caregiving event in the same year.
        • Employees may qualify for 18 weeks of paid leave if they experience a condition in pregnancy that results in incapacity.  
      • Qualifying events making employees/participants eligible for leave:
        • To care for employee’s serious illness or injury.
        • To care for a family member with serious medical need.
        • To bond with a new baby or child.
      • Other relevant Information:
        • Quarterly, employers must report employee hours worked, wages earned, and pay over any premiums owed.
        • Grants will be available to help businesses with fewer than 150 employees cover costs as a result of an employee exercising leave under the program.

Please visit Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave website for more information and additional resources.


Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Employers should closely monitor the rules and regulations specific to their jurisdiction(s) and should seek advice from counsel relative to their rights and responsibilities.

Megan Butz

By Megan Butz
General Counsel, HR Compliance, Checkwriters
Megan joined Checkwriters in 2020 and is responsible for reviewing, revising, and implementing internal policies of the company, advising on human resource, employment, and labor matters, and monitoring and publishing state and federal legal updates to the Checkwriters News and Compliance Center for distribution to thousands of clients around the country. Before joining Checkwriters, Megan served as a judicial law clerk for the justices of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court performing legal research and writing, followed by private practice in Cape Cod.

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