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WA Cares Fund | Updated Information for Employers

Update as of January 27, 2022

Due to concerns regarding the WA Cares Fund, two house bills were passed by the Legislature to make improvements. New changes include:

  • Workers born before 1968 (who are near retirement) will be able to qualify for partial benefits on a pro-rated basis.

  • Workers who live out-of-state and work in Washington, military spouses, workers on non-immigrant visas, and certain veterans with disabilities will be able to opt-out of the program.

To address these changes, premium collections of the WA Cares fund will be delayed by 18 months. Collections will start in July 2023.


If you have already withheld premiums for employees this year, you have 120 days from the date premiums were collected to reimburse them. Do not collect premiums until the July 2023 start date. If you have copies of exemption approval letters from employees, keep them for future reference.


Learn more about these updates on the WA Cares Fund website.



 

Washington state is launching a new long-term care fund, and if you're an employer, you will need to start collecting and reporting premiums from your employees beginning next year. Here is a brief overview of the fund and what your responsibilities as an employer are:


What is the WA Cares Fund?

The WA Care Funds is a new employee premium that provides qualified, eligible individuals up to $36,500 (adjusted annually up to inflation) worth of support and services over their lifetime. Support and services may include hiring a home care aide, paying a family member, making home modifications, or receiving care in a residential or nursing home.


How Much is the Premium?

The premium is 0.58% of wages, which means the Washington workers will pay up to $0.58 per $100 of earnings. It is funded by employee contributions so employers do not need to pay into the WA Cares Fund themselves.


What Are My Responsibilities as an Employer?

As an employer, you are required to collect and report premiums and track employee exemptions. Premiums will be collected the same way as Paid Leave and the reporting system will be updated to integrate both programs.


If an employee chooses to apply for an exemption, you will need to keep a copy of their approval letter from the Employment Security Department (ESD) on file and you will not deduct WA Cares premiums from their wages.


Am I Eligible if I am Self-Employed?

Self-employed individuals who qualify for Paid Family and Medical Leave are also eligible for the WA Cares Fund. Eligible individuals include:

  • Sole proprietors

  • Joint venturers and members of a partnership

  • Members of LLCs

  • Independent contractors

If you are eligible and would like to sign up, you can apply through your SAW account.



 

Disclaimer: This post is meant for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult with your accountant or bookkeeper for more information based on your specific situation. For more information, please read through the following resources:


Additional Resources