Washington launches new ‘Paid Family and Medical Leave’ program

Employees can take up to 18 weeks off under this new plan

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The state of Washington has rolled out a new ‘Paid Family and Medical Leave’ program, which the Employment Security Department is calling the most robust in the country.

According to the program, almost all workers in the state may be able to take up to 12 weeks off to take care of family members, newborn children, or any medical emergencies. This includes full-time and part-time workers, and in some instances an upwards of 16 to 18 weeks of paid leave can be negotiated.

Applications can be filed with the Employment Security Department (ESD).

“For the first time in this state, millions of workers will have access to paid leave when they need it most,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine, “Whether it is caring for a spouse receiving cancer treatment, recovering from surgery or welcoming a new child into the family, this program will have a profound and positive impact on the state of well-being for the state of Washington.”

Employees must work 820 hours over the year, around 16 hours per week, and experience a qualifying event to be eligible.

The program is funded by a premium – and when a worker goes on paid leave, they will receive a partial wage replacement based on income, covering up to 90 percent of their typical wage. Additionally, the entirety of the paid leave does not need to be taken at once. For instance, someone under this plan could take a day off to take care of a relative, rather than the entire 12-week block.

The Employment Security Department says that Washington’s program has among the highest rates of wage replacement in the country, with one of the largest amount of weeks available for paid leave.

“A paycheck is essential, but time to care for yourself and your family is irreplaceable,” said LeVine. “Paid Family and Medical Leave means Washingtonians won’t have to choose between the two, and employers won’t have to lose workers when life happens.”

For more information, visit the Paid Leave website here.

Information for employers can be found here.