If you’re an employer in Washington state, it’s important to know the various taxes and premiums required to withhold from your employees’ paychecks. One of those is Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave.
What is Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave?
Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave is a program administered by the Employee Security Department (ESD) that allows employees to take paid time off to care for themselves or a family member.
When can employees take Paid Leave?
Most employees are eligible for paid leave if they have worked at least 820 hours in Washington during the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. Alternatively, employees may be eligible if they have completed the last four calendar quarters immediately before applying for leave.
Situations that qualify for paid leave include:
Serious injury or illness that prevents an employee from working
Taking care of a family member with a serious medical condition
Giving birth to a baby
Bonding with a new baby or child
Certain military events
How long can an employee take Paid Leave?
Typically, employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of Paid Family and Medical Leave per year. The amount of Paid Leave is determined by a healthcare provider. Those taking leave to bond with a new baby or child qualify for 12 weeks.
If an employee has more than one qualifying event, they may qualify for up to 16 weeks. In a scenario where an employee is facing complications during pregnancy or childbirth that leads to incapacity, they may be eligible for 18 weeks of Paid Leave.
It’s also important to note that employees do not have to take all their Paid Leave at once. For example, they may take a day off once a week to care for a family member, however, they must take at least eight hours off in a row.
When employees want to take Paid Leave, they must submit an application directly with the state. The Employment Security Department will determine the employee’s eligibility and manage their claim.
What is my responsibility as an employer?
You must notify your employees about this benefit by posting a notice in a visible place where you post other employment-related notices. You can find the mandatory poster here: https://paidleave.wa.gov/employer-roles-responsibilities/
Paid Leave is funded through premiums paid by both employees and employers, which means that you will need to calculate and collect premiums on paychecks and submit premiums on a quarterly basis. If you have fewer than 50 employees, then you are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium, but must still collect and submit the employee portion.
What is the premium rate?
The premium is 0.8% of each employee’s gross wages, not including tips, up to the Social Security cap (for 2023, which is $160,200). Employees must pay 72.75% of the premium while employers with more than 50 employees must pay up to the remaining 27.25%.
The premium is 0.74% of each employee’s gross wages, not including tips, up to the Social Security cap (for 2024, which is $168,600). Employees must pay 71.43% of the premium while employers with more than 50 employees must pay up to the remaining 28.57%.
To estimate your premium, you can use the calculator on the Paid Leave website: https://paidleave.wa.gov/estimate-your-paid-leave-payments/
How do I pay and report premiums?
Paid Family and Medical Leave Premiums are paid and reported on a quarterly basis through your SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account.
Information needed for your quarterly report includes:
Your business name
Your UBI number
Total premiums collected
Name of the person who prepared the report
Employee’s first name, last name, and middle initial
Employee’s SSN or ITIN
Employee’s date of birth
Each employee’s total hours worked, including paid time off
Each employee’s wages, excluding tips
WA Cares exemption status (since WA Cares and Paid Leave now use the same reporting system)
Information can be reported by manual entry or by uploading a .CSV file. You can find additional the .CSV File Specifications and template here: https://paidleave.wa.gov/reporting/
When are Paid Leave reports due?
Paid Leave premiums and reports are due on the last day of the month following each quarter:
April 30 (Q1: January, February, March)
July 30 (Q2: April, May, June)
October 31 (Q3: July, August, September)
January 31 (Q4: October, November, December)
How do I contact Paid Leave?
If you have questions regarding Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave, contact Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave at 833-717-2273 or visit https://paidleave.wa.gov/help-center/.
Need Help with Payroll?
If you need help running payroll and keeping track of all the reports and taxes, we offer payroll with our bookkeeping services. Give us a call at (360) 756-5020 to see how we can help take the stress off of bookkeeping and payroll for your company.
It’s important to note that Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave is different than paid sick leave administered through the Labor & Industries Department (L&I) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
For more information, visit these links on the Paid Leave website: