United States: Washington Paid Family And Medical Leave Is Imminent: Are You Ready?

Last Updated: December 19 2018
Article by Catharine Morisset

Washington employers, get ready. Starting January 1, 2019, the state's Employment Security Department (ESD) will begin collecting premium payments from employers so the historic Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program can be implemented. While the benefits will not be able to be accessed by workers until 2020, don't be fooled into thinking that you still have another year to prepare for this new law; you need to begin your preparations now. What do Washington employers need to know to get ready?

The Basics

Under Washington's new PFML program, eligible employees will be entitled to paid leave up to 12 weeks for "qualifying events," such as their own serious health condition or to care for sick family members (with up to 16 weeks combined family and medical leave), and up to two additional weeks for certain pregnancy complications. These benefits, not accessible until 2020, will be available to employees who have worked at least 820 hours for a covered employer in the prior four out of five complete calendar quarters before the need for leave.

Immediate Steps You Need To Take

There are three main steps you will need to take starting January 1: collect premiums from your workers, provide the proper notice, and determine whether you will be remitting your share each quarter.

  • Collecting Premiums: All employers must start collecting the employee's share of the premiums program after January 1, 2019. The total premium for 2019 is 0.4% of the employee's gross wages, to be shared by the employer (37 percent) and employee (63 percent). These premiums must be collected each paycheck. The premium collection rule applies regardless of your total number of employees. The definition of covered employees is also broad: it includes not only employees who perform work in Washington, but also employees who live in Washington or whose work is directed from Washington, as well as if the employer's "base of operations" is in the state.
  • Providing Notice: You must give notice to employees of the new deduction at least one pay period in advance of the first premium collection. To help, ESD has provided a sample notice to include with paychecks, found here.
  • Remitting Your Share: Most employers must also plan to remit the employer's share of the premiums each calendar quarter. Employers with fewer than 50 "Washington" employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium, but may want to opt in. The law provides small business grants to employers with fewer than 50 employees who have opted in and to employers with 50 to 100 employees. These are designed to help cover costs associated with replacement labor during the period of an employee's PFML.

First Quarter 2019 Steps—And Beyond

There are also a host of additional considerations you should take into account for the first quarter of 2019 and beyond. Here is a good list of things you should consider for the new year:

  • Schedule Quarterly Premium Payments: You must get ready to remit all of the premiums each calendar quarter. The first quarterly deadline will be April 30, 2019. ESD is building a secure account management system where employers will file reports, pay premiums, and apply for voluntary plans, among other things, but it is still being developed.
  • Reporting Requirements: All employers must also be ready to meet other PFML reporting requirements by April 30, 2019, and each calendar quarter thereafter. This includes, for example, information such as hours worked and total employee pay broken down by employee SSN. While some of the information is similar to unemployment reporting obligations, this is a different reporting requirement, so make sure you are familiar with it.
  • Voluntary Leave Plans: You must not assume that any current paid leave policies you have in place are sufficient to comply with Washington's new law. In fact, any voluntary plan—which must meet all of the PFML benefits standards, qualifying reasons, and other requirements—must also be approved by ESD in order to be considered sufficient. While it's too late to apply for approval before the end of 2018, you can plan ahead if you would like to take advantage of your own organization's plan later in 2019. Without approval by the end of the prior quarter, though, you still must collect and remit the premiums for the following calendar quarter.
  • Stay Alert For Further Details: You should ensure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips' alert system to gather the most up-to-date information, and you can also monitor ESD's website for updates. The state will be setting up the online reporting system, developing and releasing a mandatory rights poster to be displayed at your worksite, developing a rights notice form that you must provide to your workers, and finalizing the administrative regulations. Once each of these steps occurs, you will need to take action to adopt them to your workplace policies and practices. We remain hopeful that the implementing regulations will help answer common questions that still linger, such as how to navigate situations where we'll see the intersection of paid sick leave situations, short-term disability plans, and FMLA leaves.
  • Pencil In Training Sessions: You should plan to conduct training for human resources, management, and supervisors so they are aware of their obligations and your company's procedures once the paid leave system is in place. You'll want to wait to do so until all the regulations are adopted, but you can plan now to ensure these occur before the close of 2019.

Some Consequences for Failed Compliance

Employers who fail to collect the employee's share of the premium will be stuck having to pay it. And you cannot go back any length of time to collect missed premium deductions.

ESD will have broad authority to audit, investigate complaints, and impose penalties. The agency can file a civil suit, which must be given priority hearing, to force payments. If an employer fails to remit required payments, for example, the employer must pay the entire balance owed, plus 1 percent monthly interest (compounded), and double those amounts as penalties.


The law is complex, and as with any new law, challenging. For help with compliance steps or to answer questions, please contact your attorney.

This Legal Alert provides information about a specific state law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Catharine Morisset
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions