New Washington Paid Family Leave Measure (Not to Be Confused With Washington Paid Sick Leave)

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Beginning in 2020, workers in Washington State will be eligible to receive paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child or for serious medical conditions.  This new measure is not to be confused with the State paid sick leave which was approved by initiative last year (we know these rapid-fire changes can be confusing and difficult to track; don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions, we can clarify and explain).

The new paid leave benefits will be administered by the state but funded through employer and employee contributions.  The state will begin collecting premiums on January 1, 2019.

Under the paid family leave program, eligible employees will receive 12 weeks of paid leave for either:

  • The birth or adoption of a child (an additional two weeks may be used if there is a serious health condition with a pregnancy); or
  • The employee’s or employee’s family member’s serious medical condition.

Alternatively, employees may receive up to 16 weeks for a combination of both types of leave.

The premium paid by employers and employees will amount to 0.4 percent of wages: employees will pay 63 percent of the premium through a paycheck deduction and employers will pay the remaining 37 percent.  For example, according to a Senate calculator, an employee who makes $50,000/year will pay $2.42/week in premiums and his employer will pay $1.42/week.

If your business already offers equivalent benefits, it may be eligible to opt out of the state-run program.  We are available to help you review your current policies (or draft new ones) to ensure you are in compliance when the new rules go into effect.

About the Authors

Emma Kazaryan

Emma is an associate in the firm's litigation and employment practice groups.

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Lauren Parris Watts

Lauren Parris Watts’ practice focuses on representing and advising individual clients and small to medium-sized business clients in risk management, contractual matters, employment and general tort litigation. She counsels clients on a variety of issues, including compensation and severance agreements, non-competition and non-solicitation restrictions, disability accommodations, FMLA and other leave rights and misconduct investigations. She also represents her clients in lawsuits alleging wrongful termination, sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination.

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