Paid Family Medical Leave Premiums begin Jan. 1, 2019

December 7th, 2018 - Lisa M. Keeler

At a recent Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce event I was asked:  Are there any new employment law changes to pay attention to?  Absolutely!

As we shared in a number of news articles over the past year there were big recent changes to Washington employment law including paid sick leave and paid family medical leave.  Since January 1, 2018, all nonexempt employees have been eligible to accrue and use paid sick leave.  This New Year again ushers in a change employers must pay close attention to.

What do employers need to do Jan. 1?

Premium collections for Paid Family and Medical Leave begin January 1, 2019.  Employers must begin withholding the premiums from employee paychecks, or plan to cover part or all of the employee’s share.  And employers need to start preparing for quarterly reporting by tracking hours and wages for all employees (full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, and seasonal) as well as tracking total premiums collected from employees.  The first report will be due April 30 for January, February and March.

How much are the premiums?

The initial premium rate is 0.4 percent of wages. Employers can deduct from the employees’ wages up to 63% of the total premiums due (for family leave and for medical leave).  An employer may elect to pay all of the premiums.

Do small employers have to pay premiums?

Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from paying the employer share of premiums, but they must still collect the employee shares and meet reporting requirements.  If a small employer elects to pay the employer share, they can qualify for some assistance when employees take leave.

Is there any way for an employer to opt out of the state program?

Employers can create their own PFML system (voluntary plan) with equivalent benefits and requirements. Any voluntary plan must be pre-approved by Employment Security Department.

Additional information

Claims for paid family and medical leave benefits can begin January 1, 2020. A mandatory notice poster will be available before January 2020, but there is a downloadable optional paystub insert that employers can post or provide now.

Check out our original post for more information and the Employment Security Department guidebook online which includes specific information for Employers, Employees, and Healthcare providers.

Disclaimer: This article and blog are intended to inform the reader of general legal principles applicable to the subject area. They are not intended to provide legal advice regarding specific problems or circumstances. Readers should consult with competent counsel with regard to specific situations.

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