Washington Paid Family Leave

July 12, 2019

Beginning January 1, 2019, Washington State will start requiring employers and employees to pay premiums for paid family and medical leave.

Agency Update: The Washington Employment Security Department has announced that the reporting requirement deadline has been extended from July 1, 2019 to August 31, 2019.  Between, July 1 and August 31, employers can submit both Q1 and Q2 reports and premium payments through Secure Access Washington (SAW).

This will not affect the availability of benefits.  Eligible employees will still be able to apply for benefits on January 1, 2019. Paylocity will not be extending the Q1 and Q2 filing and plans to file by the end of July


Beginning January 1, 2019, the State of Washington will start requiring employers and employees to pay premiums for paid family and medical leave. Starting January 1, 2020, employees will be able to apply for Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits.

The benefits will generally allow up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year for the employee’s own health condition or to care for a member of their family. This is a statewide insurance program, so employees and employers will contribute premiums together through payroll withholding.

Employee Requirements: Employees must work 820 hours or more in the qualifying period to be eligible for leave. The qualifying period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters starting from the day the employee intends to take leave. Employees will pay for this program through mandatory payroll deductions. On January 1, 2019, 0.4% of the employee’s gross pay will be the premium for each pay period.

The employee must provide notification of their intention to take leave. If an event is foreseeable, the employee must provide 30 days’ notice. If the event is unforeseeable, the employee must provide notice as is practicable.

Leave Qualifiers: This benefit cannot be taken without a qualifying event. Leave events can be either Family or Medical, for example:

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

Employer Information: There will be new payroll withholding rules in 2019, and employers will need to collect and remit Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums quarterly. The premium will be 0.4% of gross wages paid each quarter starting in 2019. The employer portion will be about 37% of the premium. Employers may withhold up to the remaining 63% of the premium from employee wages if they choose.

These premiums are split into two parts, Family Leave and Medical Leave. Family Leave is 1/3 of the total premium, and Medical Leave is 2/3. The Family Leave premium is paid entirely by the employee. The Medical Leave premium is split; 45% paid by employee, 55% paid by employer.

Employee Count: Employees will be counted once a year. On Sept. 30 of each year, the department will average the number of employees reported by an employer over the last four completed calendar quarters. The number of employees counted will be used to determine eligibility for small business assistance grants and the option of collecting employer premiums for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. This is a headcount, rather than a count of full time equivalent employees.

Reporting Requirements: Washington employers will be responsible to report wages and hours worked for their Washington-based employees starting in 2019. The first required reporting will be for the first quarter of 2019 and must be reported by April 30, 2019. The requirements are listed below.

  • 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
  • Total premiums deducted from all employee’s wages during the calendar quarter

Collective Bargaining Agreements: Employers and employees subject to collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) that were in existence on Oct. 19, 2017 are not subject to the rights or responsibilities of paid family and medical leave until the agreement is reopened, renegotiated, or expires.

Next Steps: The Government Relations Team along with our industry partners are actively working with the State’s Employment Security Department as they are finalizing the requirements to ensure we are prepared to accommodate the requirements set forth.

Thank you for choosing Paylocity as your Payroll Tax partner. Should you have any questions, please contact your Paylocity Account Manager.

This information is provided as a courtesy, may change and is not intended as legal or tax guidance. Employers with questions or concerns outside the scope of a Payroll Service Provider are encouraged to seek the advice of a qualified CPA, Tax Attorney or Advisor.


Date Posted: July 12, 2019