Paid Family and Medical Leave is an insurance program funded through premiums paid by employers and workers in the form of paycheck withholdings. Employers, regardless of size, are required to collect and remit these premiums, though some employers are not required to pay the employer portion. Nearly all employers in the state will participate in the program.
- Employers must collect and remit premiums starting in 2019.
- The total premium for 2019 is 0.4%, shared by the employer (37%) and employee (63%).
- An employer can elect to pay the employee's share of the premium.
- Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium.
- Premiums must be remitted quarterly during the month following each completed calendar quarter.
- Premium withholdings are capped at the Social Security cap, $128,400 in 2018.
Washington's Paid Family & Medical Leave Program is organized as an insurance program. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, most employers are required to collect Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums from employee paychecks.
The initial premium will be .4% and can be adjusted annually after 2020 by the Employment Security Department, according to rules set by the statute. One-third (1/3) of the premium will be collected for Family Leave, and 2/3 of the premium for Medical Leave.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the premium but are still required to collect and remit the employee portion. To learn more about how we calculate the number of employees a business has, read our Employer Page.
An employer may not deduct more than the maximum allowable employee share of the premium during any pay period. If an employer does not withhold enough to cover their quarterly bill, the employer must pay the difference between what they have collected and what they owe. An employer can not collect premium payments from a future paycheck of an employee.
Premium payments are required to be paid quarterly. Payments are due to the department by the last day of the month following the end of the calendar quarter for which premiums are being paid.
Employers using a Voluntary Plan should refer to the Voluntary Plan page for details about premium collection in that circumstance.
In this example, the employer is using the state plan for both family and medical leave. An employee has earned $2,500 gross pay in a single pay period. The premium is 0.4% in 2019.
First, calculate the employee’s total premium.
$2500 * .004 = $10
Second, calculate employer and employee shares of family and medical leave.
Employee share of family leave
$10 * .3333 = $3.33
Employee share of medical leave
$10 * .3000 = $3.00
Add them together for the total employee premium
$3.33 + $3 = $6.33
$6.33 is the total employee share of the premium
Employers are not required to pay a portion of family leave.
Employer share of medical leave
$10 * .3667 = $3.67
The employee contributes $6.33. The employer contributes $3.67.
- Use conventional rounding when necessary.
- An employer can pay any or all of the employee’s share of the premiums.
- If the employer had fewer than 50 employees, they are not required to contribute the employer part of the premium. They are still required to collect and remit the employee part, as well as fulfill the reporting requirements of the program.
Premiums are due quarterly. They must be remitted before the end of the month after each completed calendar quarter.
Payment Due Before
January – March
April – June
July – September
October – December
The tools employers will use to pay these premiums are being created in the summer of 2018. More information will be posted here when details about this process are available. Our newsletter is the best place to receive updates about this process.
Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums must be remitted separately from Unemployment Insurance payments. This separation is required because Unemployment Insurance funds are federal funds.
Nearly all employers in the state are required to participate in this program. Out-of-state employers who have employees based in Washington are required to collect premiums and remit on behalf of their Washington employees.
If an employee primarily works in Washington, and most of their work is performed in Washington, they are covered by Paid Family and Medical Leave. This continues to be true even if they sometimes travel for work out of state.
An employee is not covered by Paid Family and Medical Leave, and their employer is not required to withhold premiums, if they are working in Washington for a short period of time.
Example: A storm hits Washington. An employer in Oregon dispatches an employee who typically lives and works in Oregon to help with repair work. The employee works temporarily in Washington for the employer for one week, and then returns to work in Oregon for the employer. The employment is localized within Oregon and is not subject to premium assessment.
Voluntary Plan Participants
Voluntary Plan employers are not required to withhold state plan premiums. They are still required to report employee wages and hours, along with other information. See the Voluntary Plan page for more information.
Self Employed People
Any self-employed person may opt-in to the state plan. This includes sole proprietors, independent contractors, partners, and joint ventures. When electing to use the state plan, self-employed persons must participate for an initial period of three years, and then can renew every year thereafter.
Self-employed people must cover the employee share of the premium and are required to work 820 hours in the qualifying period to be eligible for benefits.
For more information regarding self-employed persons using the state plan, see the RCW here: Elective Coverage – Self Employed.