Washington workers will be able to use Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits starting in 2020. These benefits will generally allow up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for yourself or your family per year. This is a statewide insurance program, so workers and employers will contribute premiums together through payroll withholding.

You shouldn’t have to choose between caring for your loved ones and paying your bills.
Now, in Washington you don’t have to.

On this page: Can I Take Leave?Taking LeaveNotifying Your EmployerPaying PremiumsVoluntary Plans

Quick Facts

  • This statewide insurance program starts with payroll withholding in 2019, and employees can take leave in 2020.
  • Workers can take paid leave to care for themselves or their family.
  • Up to 12 weeks of leave are generally available, though up to 18 weeks could be allowed in some circumstances.
  • The benefit is paid in proportion to your average weekly wage, up to 90%.
  • You must work up to 820 hours in the qualifying period to take leave.
  • Workers pay for the leave through payroll withholding and most employers pay too.
  • Your employer may choose to use a Voluntary Plan and your benefits may be different.


Getting Started

Paid Family and Medical Leave is a mandatory statewide insurance program. Washington workers will have access to this leave when they have worked 820 hours in the qualifying period. When leave is taken, the benefit is paid by the State of Washington rather than the employer.

Can I Take Leave?

To qualify for Paid Family and Medical Leave, you must work 820 hours or more in the qualifying period. The qualifying period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters starting from the day you intend to take leave.

This benefit cannot be taken without a qualifying event. Leave events can be either Family or Medical.

Family Leave

  • Care and bond after a baby’s birth or the placement of a child younger than 18
  • Care for a family member experiencing an illness or medical event
  • Certain military-connected events

Medical Leave

  • Care for yourself in relation to an illness or medical event

Taking Leave

You must apply for this benefit through the Employment Security Department.

The application process for taking leave is being created in 2019. This process is being created with the customer in mind and should be simple, quick, and friendly. This page will be updated with more information when it is available.

If you experience an unforeseeable medical event, you can apply for leave after the event. For example, if you are in a traumatic auto accident you won’t be able to file your claim before the event. You will be able to file your claim after the event happens and the rules about this process are being developed now. If you would like to participate, you can do so on our Rulemaking page.

While on leave, you are entitled to progressive wage replacement. That means you’ll get a percentage of your average weekly pay. The benefit is up to 90% of your weekly wage with a minimum of $100 per week and a maximum of $1,000 per week.

Employer Notification

You must provide notification of your intention to take leave. If an event is foreseeable, you must provide 30 days’ notice. If the event is unforeseeable, you must provide notice as is practicable. For example, if you have a medical procedure appointment that will be the start of your leave, you must give your employer 30 days’ notice of your intention to take leave. Your application to the Employment Security Department isn’t considered notice to your employer.

Paying Premiums

Workers pay for this program through mandatory payroll deductions. In 2019, 0.4% of gross pay will be the premium for each pay period. Workers don’t need to take any action to pay as their employer is responsible for this deduction.

Workers do not pay the entire premium. Employers contribute as well. Generally, the worker pays 63% of the premium and the employer pays 37%.

Example: If you made $2,000 gross wages in a typical paycheck, your premium would be $8. You would pay about $5.04 and your employer would pay $2.96 in premiums.

To learn more about premiums, read our Premiums Page.

Voluntary Plans

Your employer may use a Voluntary Plan instead of the state Paid Family and Medical Leave plan. If they do, your benefits may be different. Workers covered by a Voluntary Plan apply for benefits directly with their employer.

Voluntary Plans are available to employers who want to operate their own paid family and medical leave program. The benefits available to workers in a Voluntary Plan must match or exceed the state plan.

Voluntary Plan benefits can vary by employer, so your plan may have benefits and premiums specific to your place of work. Generally, Voluntary Plans must:

  • Meet or exceed the state plan.
  • Must be approved by the Employment Security Department.
  • Cover all employees, not just a segment of an employer’s workforce.

To learn more about Voluntary Plans, see our Voluntary Plan page or talk to your supervisor.