Washington: Changes and Expansion to Statewide Paid Family Medical Leave


All Employers with 50+ WA Employees


March 25, 2020


Contact HR On-Call

(888) 378-2456

Washington originally implemented its statewide, job-protected paid leave program in 2017, available for use as of January 1, 2020.  The Washington Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) Law provides qualifying employees paid leave benefits funded by employee payroll deductions.  More recently, the governor signed into law changes and clarifications to the PFML program, effective March 25, 2020.

Key changes to the provisions of PFML include:

  • Exemptions from PFML: Workers engaged to provide casual labor are not eligible for PFML benefits.
  • Changes to definitions:
    • Workweek hours means the average number of hours worked within the qualifying period, rather than “since the beginning” of the qualifying period;
    • A “child’s spouse” is included in the definition of a child for determining PFML coverage; and
    • Casual labor was clarified to mean infrequent, irregular casual labor performed twelve or fewer times per year.
  • Supplemental benefit payments: supplemental benefits, such as vacation or paid time off compensation, will not reduce employees’ PFML benefit amounts.
  • Conditional waivers: employers may file an application for a waiver of premium payments for employees who primarily work outside Washington, and are not expected to be employed in the state for 820 or more hours during a period of four consecutive calendar quarters.  The conditional waiver must be signed by employer and employee attesting to the conditions of the waiver, and such waiver will expire if the conditions are no longer satisfied.
  • Child support: child support obligations may be deducted from PFML benefits.
  • Waiting time period: benefits begin the previous Sunday of the week in which an eligible employee takes the minimum eight hours of leave.  Employees may receive paid time off for any part of the waiting period.
  • Private right of action: As of June 11, 2020, employees may bring a private right of action against any employer for PFML violations, including class action claims in addition to individual claims.  Plaintiffs may be able to recover attorneys’ fees, witness fees, and costs from employers.

Action Items

  1. Have paid leave policies updated.
  2. Have payroll administrators trained on treatment of benefits.
  3. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2020 ManagEase

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