Fourth quarter has begun, and January 1 of 2019 will be here before we know it. In 2017, the Washington State legislator passed the Family Leave Act (FLA) which provides up to 12 weeks (18 weeks in some limited circumstances) of paid family and medical leave in a 12-month period for eligible employees beginning in 2020. Eligible employees are those that have been employed by the employer for 12 months (which do not need to be consecutive months) and work a minimum of 820 hours in a qualifying period prior to the leave. The FLA will be monitored and administered by the Employment Security Department.
This program is funded through employee and some employer contributions. Employers must begin to collect and submit payments in 2019. Premiums for 2019 are 0.4% of gross wages, shared by the employer (37%) and employee (63%), though employers can pay the employee portion if they choose to do so. That 0.4% figure can be adjusted annually, and premiums are split between medical leave and family leave. Employers with less than 50 employees are not required to contribute but must still collect and submit the employee portions. Payments must be remitted by employers quarterly. Additional information on how to calculate owed premiums as well as examples can be found on the Employment Security Department website.
Benefits range between a minimum of $100 to a maximum of $1,000 per week and are approximately 90% of weekly wages at the maximum level. Resources are available to help employees with weekly benefit calculations.
If your company is already using a Human Capital Management system, the payroll implications of these changes are probably being handled automatically by the relevant area of your system. In People Savvy HCM's Payroll module, for example, the software has already been updated in anticipation of Washington state's legislation going into effect. This is one of the great benefits of a cloud-based HCM suite: your payroll tools always anticipate the implementation of legislative changes, so you can be proactive rather than reactive (i.e. panic-stricken) in these situations.
Employers are required to post information on the family and medical leave programs for employees to review. The Your Rights As a Worker poster must be displayed where employees would expect to find such notices. Penalties apply if not properly displayed. The Employment Security Department has issued a Fact Sheet with additional information.
Effective January 1, 2020, all Washington employers must offer paid family and medical leave. Employers have the option of utilizing the state plan, a voluntary plan, or both. The Voluntary Plan Guide provides required details to employers looking to sponsor their own plan.