As of Jan. 1, paid family/medical-leave benefits can be taken

Starting in January, nearly all workers in Washington, including part- and full-time, may be eligible to take up to 12 weeks to care for themselves or a family member through a serious illness or injury, to bond with a new child coming into the home and for certain service-connected events for military families. In some circumstances, between 16 and 18 weeks may be available.

Payroll taxes to fund the new benefit began Jan. 1, 2019. 

Employers and employees can visit this website for more information.

To be eligible for the new benefits, an employee must work 820 hours in Washington, approximately 16 hours per week, over the course of about a year and experience a qualifying event. Hours are accumulated from all employers for which an employee works, including multiple employers at once and seasonal or temporary work. Qualifying events include the birth, placement or adoption of a child, a worker’s own serious health condition or the need to care for a family member who has a serious health condition. For an application to be approved in the event of a serious health condition, medical certification by a healthcare provider will be required.

Unlike the unpaid federal program, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the state Paid Family and Medical Leave program offers partial wage replacement and applies to workers in businesses of all sizes. Wage replacement is based on income and can cover up to 90 percent of a worker’s typical wage. Job protection is available if a worker is employed at a business of over 50 employees, they have worked there for at least a year and for a minimum of 1,250 hours.

Applications for leave can be filed with Employment Security starting Jan. 2, 2020, with benefits payable from January 1. Events that took place in 2019 may still be covered, including the birth or placement of a child.

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