Last year, the State of Washington passed the new Paid Family Medical Leave law (PFML). The law covers all private employers in Washington.
During a year, eligible employees may be entitled to job-protected paid leave as follows:
· 12 weeks of family or medical leave
· 14 weeks of family or medical leave if the employee experiences a pregnancy-related serious health condition that results in incapacity
· 16 week of combined family and medical leave
· 18 weeks of combined family and medical leave if the employee experiences a pregnancy-related serious health condition that results in incapacity
The law will be funded by both employers and employees paying into the paid leave program through payroll deductions. The total premium is 0.4% of an employee’s wages, to which both the employer and the employee must contribute. (Small employers (less than 50 employees) are not required to pay the employer portion of the premiums.) Employers will be responsible for reporting wages and hours to the state, and for remitting all premiums collected to the state.
Payroll deductions will begin on January 1, 2019. Employees will be able to begin using benefits on January 1, 2020.
Employers can also choose to provide a voluntary paid family medical leave plan instead of using the state plan. The employer must submit an application for the voluntary plan to the state, and the state must give approval. A voluntary plan must provide employees with at least the same amount of leave for the same reasons as a state PMFL plan, and must provide the same or better monetary benefits. The employees’ share of the premium can’t be more than what it would be for the state PFML plan.
With the deadline to begin payroll deductions on the horizon, employers should start preparing now. Steps to consider include:
· Checking with your payroll department or payroll provider to make sure they will begin making payroll deductions in January 2019
· Before the end of 2018, determining how and when to communicate the upcoming new payroll deduction to employees
· Revising employee handbooks in later 2019 to have updated leave policies available for January 2020
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions regarding Washington’s new Paid Family Medical Leave law.