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WA State Nonprofits Must Prepare for New Paid Family & Medical Leave Laws Starting in 2019

Posted Oct 11, 2018 10:20 AM
Starting in 2020, Washington will be the fifth state to require employers to provide paid family and medical leave (PFML) benefits.

These benefits offer partially paid leave to care for one's self, a loved one in times of serious illness or injury, parents who are raising a newborn, parents who've just adopted a child or gained a foster placement, or to attend certain military-connected events if one has a family member in active duty service.

While these new benefits don’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2020, employers across the state – including nonprofit organizations – must begin to plan for these changes and take action now, with premium collection beginning on Jan. 1, 2019.

The premium rate for 2019 is 0.4 percent of an employee’s gross wages, or $3.85 per week for someone making $50,000 a year. Employers can either pay the full premium or opt to withhold a portion of the premium from their employee's paycheck. Employers who choose to withhold premiums from their employees may withhold up to about 63 percent of the total premium, or $2.44 per week for an employee making $50,000 annually. Organizations that have under 50 employees may choose to opt out from paying the employer portion of the premium, but are still required to collect the employee’s portion or elect to pay that portion on the employee’s behalf.

Please note that there are no exception for nonprofits.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2019, employers must:

  1. Begin withholding Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums from employee paychecks, or plan to cover part or all of the employee's share.
  2. Begin preparations for quarterly reporting, including tracking hours and wages of all employees, including seasonal, temporary, and part-time workers.

The Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) has an employer toolkit to help you adjust to these changes. This toolkit includes premium calculation information, reporting requirements, and sample employee communications.

As an employer, you must follow these steps right away. Refer to page 12 of the employer toolkit for a readiness checklist.

  1. If you have under 50 employees, determine if you will pay the employer premiums.
  2. Decide if you will pay employee premiums. Use this premium calculator to help you make this decision.
  3. Calculate the employee and employer premiums you must withhold starting on Jan. 1, 2019.
  4. Share this toolkit with your payroll administrator
  5. Communicate to your staff about these mandatory changes and how it will affect them.
  6. Share the pay stub alert with your employees (page 16 of the toolkit).
  7. Starting on Jan. 1, 2019, document in your own system the number of hours worked by each of your employees, regardless of whether they are full-time or not.
  8. Begin withholding your employees' share of the premiums, unless you choose to pay your employees' share, from their paychecks beginning on Jan. 1, 2019.
  9. Update the employee handbook to include PFML information and premium deductions.

For questions or assistance, email for guidance at an affordable rate.

ESD and 501 Commons presented a webinar that explains these changes and how nonprofits should prepare for implementation immediately. Watch the entire recorded presentation below:

For additional guidance, check out these resources:

Need guidance from an experienced HR professional on how to implement these changes? Fill out our Request for Assistance form to get the ball rolling.