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Paid Family Medical Leave Payments Start in 2019

August 6, 2018 by Paul Sullivan
Category: Leave Policies

Paid Family Medical Leave Payments Start in 2019

Paid family and medical leave is coming and employers in Washington State better get ready for it.

Beginning January 1, 2020, qualified employees will be eligible to be paid a portion of their wages if they miss work for the birth of a child, the adoption of a younger child, or to care for themselves or a family member stricken with a serious illness or injury, or for certain military connected events.

There currently is a federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that provides leave benefits but the federal program does not apply to employers with fewer than 50 employees, and the leave, if available, is unpaid. With the state law, even though the leave benefits do not begin until 2020, employers will be required to pay premiums to the state beginning January 1, 2019. The employer’s share of the premiums should be considered as a salary expense for the coming year’s budget.

What’s Next?

The state recommends employers, including local governments, take the following steps to get ready for the 2019 start date:

  • Prepare to withhold premiums.
  • Prepare to report wages, hours, and other required information.
  • Examine short-term and temporary disability policies for overlapping coverage.
  • Look for a mandatory informational flyer in summer 2018.
  • Decide to use the state plan or a voluntary plan.

For employers who participate in the state plan, premiums are to be paid to the state for the program, beginning January 1, 2019. The total premium will be 0.4% of an employee’s wages, although payments of premiums for more highly compensated positions are capped at $128,400 for these types of employees.

The paid leave premium is split between employers and employees: the employer share is approximately 37% of the 0.4% total (.004), with the remaining 63% paid by employees. Employers may—but are not required to—pay the full 0.4 percent. Let’s say an employee earns $3,000 per month. The total premium would be $12.00 ($3,000 x .004), including $4.44 paid by the employer ($12.00 x .37) and $7.56 ($12.00 x .63) withheld from the employee’s paycheck to be paid to the state.

Here is how the paid family leave premium would look for employers with more than 50 employees. 

Paid Family & Medical Leave Premiums – 50 Employees or More
Employee’s Monthly Wage 0.4% of Wages Withheld from Employee’s Paycheck
Paid by Employer
$3,000 $12.00 $7.56 $4.44

The premiums are remitted quarterly to the state with payment due at the end of the next month following the end of each quarter. The first payment will be due April 30, 2019.

Although the general requirement is that both employers and employees pay a share of the required premiums, the employer’s share is waived for smaller employers, i.e., those with fewer than 50 employees.  Smaller jurisdictions that employ 50 people or less must collect the employees’ share of the premium and pay these funds to the state; however, the jurisdiction’s share is waived.

Using salary data from the first chart, here is how the paid family leave premium would look for employers with less than 50 employees.

Paid Family & Medical Leave Premiums – Less Than 50 Employees
Employee’s Monthly Wage 0.4% of Wages Withheld from Employee’s Paycheck
Paid by Employer
$3,000 $12.00 $7.56 EXEMPT

While presumably most employers will participate in the state plan, a voluntary plan, if approved, may be used, provided the plan’s benefits meet or exceed the benefits provided by the state plan.

Of course, there will be forms to fill out. According to the state Employment Security Department (ESD), the department implementing the state family and medical leave act, employers should be prepared to report the following information for each employee:

  • Full Name
  • Social Security Number (ITIN if no SSN)
  • Zip code of primary work location
  • Job title
  • Start date
  • Wages paid during that quarter
  • Total hours worked during that quarter

Since rules concerning reporting requirements are currently under review and development by the ESD, other information may be required when the reporting forms are actually prepared.

Additional Resources

Additional information regarding the family and medical leave program is available on the ESD’s website, including a short, free webinar highlighting some of the basics of the new program.

AWC will also be broadcasting a webinar on family and medical leave with the Summit Law Group for a small fee on October 10, 2018.

If you wish to be informed or to participate in developing the implementation rules, sign up for the Employment Security Department newsletter. Additional information on the legislation itself can also be found in my 2017 blog post, Legislature Enacts Paid Family Leave.

Questions? Comments?

If you have questions about paid family leave or other local government issues, please use our Ask MRSC form or call us at (206) 625-1300 or (800) 933-6772. If you have comments about this blog post or other topics you would like us to write about, please email me at

About Paul Sullivan

Paul has worked with local governments since 1974 and has authored MRSC publications on local elections, ordinances, and general local government operations. He also provides training on the Open Public Meetings Act.



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