Washington’s Paid Family Medical Leave Program Explained

As a resource to help small businesses navigate the complex word of health insurance and employee benefits, Business Health Trust strives to keep employers informed on policies that could impact their employee benefits.

With amendments to Washington state’s Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) program going into effect this month, we are sharing this informative blog post from Davis Wright Tremaine on What Employers Should Know About Washington’s Paid Family Medical Leave Program in 2022.

Under Washington’s PFML program, eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave and partial wage replacement for their own serious health condition (medical leave) or for family care (family leave), up to 16 weeks of combined family and medical leave, and up to two additional weeks for certain pregnancy complications. Employees may also take leave for certain qualifying military exigencies.

Unlike federal FMLA where employees interact directly with their employers to determine eligibility, employees apply directly to the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) to request leave, and the ESD administers the PFML program and determines employee eligibility.

The blog encourages employees to review and update their policies now to ensure continue compliance, and focuses on 10 key considerations to help Washington employers navigate PFML, including:

  1. Employers must notify employees of PFML rights.
  2. Employees must notify employers of the need for leave.
  3. Employers cannot designate PFML leave.
  4. The Employment Security Department notifies employers of PFML applications and approvals.
  5. PFML can be used on an intermittent basis.
  6. Employers can offer “supplemental benefits” to top off PFML benefits.
  7. Benefits continuation is required in some circumstances.
  8. Some employees may be entitled to job restoration.
  9. Retaliation is prohibited.
  10. Other leaves may run concurrently with PFML leave.

For more information, read the full blog post from Davis Wright Tremaine.