Beginning January 1, 2020, family and medical leave will be available through a state-administered plan to all employees employed by an employer in Washington state. Funded by premiums paid by both employers and employees, family and medical leave insurance benefits will be payable by the Employment Security Department to employees during a period in which they are unable to perform their regular or customary work because of the need for family and medical leave.
Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (WPFML) is funded by premiums paid by both employers and employees. Premium assessment began on January 1, 2019. The law sets the initial premium rate at 0.4 percent of wages. Medical leave benefits equal 2/3 of the premium rate and family leave benefits equal the remaining 1/3.
- Employers are responsible for 55 percent of the medical leave premium.
- Employees are responsible for 45 percent of the medical leave premium and up to 100 percent of the premiums due for the family leave.
Employers may elect to pay all of the premiums or deduct the employee portion of the assessment from employee’s paychecks. The amount of wages subject to a premium assessment is capped at the maximum wages subject to social security tax.
Employers with less than 50 employees working in Washington state are exempt from paying the employer portion of the premium; however, their employees must still pay the employee share.
An eligible employer with an approved “voluntary plan” may “opt out” of the state program provided the employer’s plan allows the employee the same or more generous benefits. Voluntary plans are paid family and medical leave benefits offered by employers directly to their employees, outside of the state plan. Voluntary plan applications must be submitted through the state’s online portal and approved by the state. If approved, voluntary plans can only take effect at the start of a calendar quarter and must stay in effect for one year.
The state is in the rulemaking process of this law, which means it is still developing the scope and content of the rules for the Paid Family and Medical insurance program. Archbright will continue to monitor the rules and update members as information is available.
As an online member of Archbright through Business Health Trust, you have 24/7 access to the HR Toolkit, a collection of hundreds of documents including policies, forms, templates, letters and guidance. This library also includes our comprehensive WPFML KeyNote and FAQ resource to help members like you navigate this complex new law.
You are also invited to attend our upcoming Virtual CoffeeTalk where Erin Jacobson, Staff Counsel, and Joy Sturgis, HR Advisor, will explore WPFML. Join us at this free event as our experts review the legislation and the scope and content of the rules that the State is scheduled to roll out.
When: March 18 | 9 – 10:30 a.m.
Where: Virtual CoffeeTalk – WebEx
Visit Archbright.com to register today!