Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave

WHAT IS IT?

Paid Family and Medical Leave is a statewide insurance program that will be funded by premiums paid by both employees and their employer. This program allows eligible 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, and 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 if the employee experiences a serious health condition with a pregnancy.   

HOW DO I BECOME ELIGIBLE?

An employee becomes eligible once they have worked 820 hours for a Washington-based employer during the previous year. The benefit cannot be taken without a qualifying event. Leave events can be either Family or Medical as stated below.

Family Leave

 • Care and bond after baby’s birth or placement of a child younger than 18

 • Care for a family member experiencing an illness or medical event

 • Certain military-connected events

Medical Leave

 • 
Care for yourself in relation to an illness or medical event

WHAT IS MY WEEKLY BENEFIT?

Qualifying employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of wage replacement with a weekly minimum of $100 and a weekly maximum of $1206, adjusted annually. The exact benefit will be determined by the employee’s earned wages, the state median income, and other factors. Employees must apply for this benefit through the Employment Security Department.


HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU GET?

     • Up to 12 weeks of medical leave or family leaveMedical leave is for recovering from or getting treatment for a serious health condition. Family leave is for taking care of a qualifying family member who has a serious health condition, for bonding with a new child or for certain military events.


     • Up to 16 weeks of combined medical and family leave if you have more than one qualifying event in the same claim year. This could include medical leave for giving birth, then family leave to bond with your baby. Or you could qualify for family leave to care for a family member, then medical leave for yourself within the same year.

     • Up to 18 weeks of combined medical and family leave if you experience a condition in pregnancy that results in incapacity, like being put on bed rest or having a complicated delivery. There is a checkbox on the Certification of Serious Health Condition form where your healthcare provider should certify that your serious health condition is related to pregnancy.

HOW DOES FMLA AND PFML WORK TOGETHER?

If you take PFML starting from delivery, your FMLA (if eligible) will run concurrently. If you use FMLA starting at delivery you can use your PFML later (within one calendar year from the date of delivery)

For example: If you deliver on February 1st and start PFML on February 1st, your FMLA will run concurrently and you will return to work in 12 weeks. If you start FMLA on February 1st, you can use up to 12 weeks (April 26th). You can then use PFML starting on April 26th (or later in the calendar year) for your 12 weeks of baby bonding (July 12th) for a total of 24 weeks of leave. You can choose to use your PFML later in the year instead of "staking" such as taking 12 weeks starting in October. 

PFML MISC. INFORMATION

*** If you work less than 260 days per year you are able to take your PFML during the summer while you are not working and could possibly get paid from the district and PFML simultaneously.***


You are able to claim with PFML during non-working days such as spring break and winter break. This will count against your entitlement  time. For example: If you are out on PFML during winter break you can claim these two weeks and receive compensation from the state but, those two weeks count as part of your total 12 week entitlement.

HOW PFML IMPACTS YOUR BENEFITS

If you do not run FMLA concurrently or overlap your FMLA by one day you could be in danger of losing your benefits while on this entitlement.

If you do not supplement your leave hours while on PFML you could be in danger of losing your benefits. 

Choosing either to supplement your leave hours or overlapping your FMLA (or both) will protect your benefits. If your leave hours that you use to supplement with exhaust, you could be in danger of losing your benefits at that point for the duration of your leave. 


YOUR PAY WHILE ON PFMLA
The initial premiums will be 0.4% of an employee’s paycheck and is shared by the employee and the District. The employee will be responsible for 63% of the payroll tax, and the District will be responsible for 37%. Example: If an employee’s annual salary is $54,000, the employee will contribute about $2.62 per week and the District will contribute about $1.54 per week. For more information on premiums please visit the PFML premium page.


Your earnings from the first date of your contract until the date that you begin your PFML entitlement will be calculated and if you have any "escrow" it will be paid out at that point. Your pay assignments will be completely shut off during your leave. Upon your return, your earnings will be calculated from your return date through the end of your contract. That amount will then be divided by the number of months left through August.

For example this is what it would look like for a Cert PEA who returns from PFML on December 21st :
180_Cert PEA Return from Leave of Absence Effective 12/1/2020
12/01/20 - 06/30/2021 = 122 days
(122 days X 7.5 hours X $43.40519 hourly rate) / 9 months (Dec-Aug) = $4,412.86 new monthly

WHAT IS PAY SUPPLEMENT?
You have the choice to "supplement" your pay with your accrued leave hours. The compensation you receive from PFML may be less than your regular compensation with the district. You may elect to use any of your accrued leave hours to make up the difference. For example, if the state pays you $1000 each week and your normal wages with the district are $1500 each week, you can use your accrued leave hours such as sick or personal to make up the $500 difference. Supplemental pay is not reportable and will not impact your compensation from PFML. All calculations are made based on Gross Earnings. You will receive pay from both the state and from the district that will make you "whole" financially. If your leave hours become exhausted, you will continue to receive compensation from PFML but will no longer receive compensation from the district for the duration of your leave.

If you elect to supplement your accrued hours the following documentation is needed:

1. An approval letter from Employment Security Department showing your weekly benefit amount. You will receive this letter in the mail and you can also access it through your account with ESD.

2. Weekly screenshots of the deposit from ESD that shows the amount and the date. You will send this in each week while on your leave. You will need to indicate the date range the payment is for as there may be a delay in pay from the ESD. 

Please visit https://paidleave.wa.gov/find-out-how-paid-leave-works/ to learn more.

For more information please visit: www.esd.wa.gov/paid-family-medical-leave or https://paidleave.wa.gov/get-ready-to-apply/ for a checklist of information needed at the time of application, as well as the link to start your application. Please contact a Paid FMLA Customer Care Representative for all application related questions. 

Washington is one of 5 states in the nation to offer Paid Family and Medical Leave.  The Washington State Legislature approved Senate Bill 5975 during the 2017 legislative session and the new law went into effect on October 19, 2017.