DES updates on family leave, long-term care, UI

Updates on family leave, long term care and UI from the Washington State Employment Security Department

Paid Leave: Reminders about eligibility, premiums

Were your workers impacted by COVID-19?

New legislation went into effect in August that expanded the qualifying period for those whose work was impacted by COVID-19.

If COVID-19 led you to cut hours, furlough or lay off employees, and those workers experienced a qualifying event between Jan. 1, 2021-March 31, 2022, they may still qualify for Paid Family and Medical Leave if they worked:

  • 820 hours during January to December 2019

or

  • 820 hours during April 2019 to March 2020

Please encourage your employees

  • If they applied and were denied benefits because of hours: They should log into their Paid Leave account and submit a Request for Review with “employment history” as the reason for their request.
  • If they have not applied but would have qualified: Apply!

2022 premium rate

The premium rate will increase to 0.6% on Jan. 1, 2022. Use this rate for quarter 1 of 2022. The current rate of 0.4% is in effect until Dec. 31, 2021.

The split of the employer and employee share of the premium rates will also change in the new year.

Update your calculations!

  • Update your calculations and withhold the new 0.6% rate Jan. 1, 2022. If you don’t, you’ll be responsible for the difference during quarterly reporting.
  • For your calculations, the employer share of premiums is 26.78% and the employee share is 73.22%.

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WA Cares Fund: Employee exemptions

Tracking employee exemptions

Some employees may choose to apply for an exemption from WA Cares coverage. It’s their responsibility to apply and — if approved — to notify you and give you a copy of their approval letter from ESD. Once approved, exemptions are permanent and employees can never opt back in.

Once notified, employers must:

  • Not deduct WA Cares premiums from workers who’ve provided an ESD exemption approval letter. This letter will state the date the employee’s exemption takes effect.
  • Keep a copy of their employees’ approval letters on file.

Exemption application processing

If your employees complete their application for an exemption from WA Cares on or before Dec. 1, 2021, we guarantee we will process it before premiums take effect in January.

We’re processing your employees’ exemption applications as quickly as we can. If you have eligible workers who still intend to apply for an exemption, encourage them to submit their application as soon as possible.

We’re reviewing applications in the order we received them. We’ll send a confirmation email after we process their application. We’re working as quickly as we can, but we can guarantee we’ll process their application before the end of the year only if they submit it on or before Dec. 1, 2021.

Did you miss it?

  • Visit wacaresfund.wa.gov to learn about the benefit and what to expect. Your workers may look to you when they have questions about WA Cares. We invite you to share our website as a resource. Our contact info is available if they need assistance.
  • Check out our Employer page for helpful program information relating to your business. You can also find more resources in our Employer Toolkit, including a multi-language flyer that can help workers understand the benefit.

Stop by our Learn more page to read frequently asked questions, including specific questions for employers.

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Unemployment Insurance: Reimbursable or taxable?

Once a year, employers have the opportunity to switch the way they pay for unemployment benefits. 

“Reimbursable” employers — those who reimburse ESD for benefit charges — could become a “taxable” employer and pay unemployment taxes instead. 

Some taxable employers — whose benefit charges are paid by unemployment taxes — could become reimbursable employers instead. Nonprofit organizations and federally recognized tribes are some examples of employers who qualify to be reimbursable. 

How to make the switch

Deadline. Any request to switch payment methods must be received by Nov. 30 to take effect the following year. ESD may require a surety bond. 

Reimbursable to taxable. If you switch from reimbursable to taxable, you must stay taxable for one year. You still must pay for outstanding reimbursable benefit charges. 

Taxable to reimbursable. If you switch from taxable to reimbursable, you must stay reimbursable for two years. 

Know your options 

Read the information on pages 2 and 3 of the Choice of Tax Payment Method form. If you decide to switch, mail or fax the form back to us by Nov. 30. 

You’ll find all the instructions, including numbers to call if you have questions, on the form. 

Annual tax rate notices

ESD will mail annual tax rate notices in December. For 2022, the flat social tax rate is capped at 0.75%. The taxable wage base for 2022 will be $62,500. 

Do you use another company to report your taxes? 

Avoid paying your taxes at the incorrect rate by making sure the third-party company receives a copy of your 2022 tax rate notice. 

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