Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave

November 14, 2018
Image of the state of Washington with a calculator and calendar

Goal: Plan Approval by Dec. 31, 2018

  • If your voluntary plan receives state approval by Dec. 31, 2018, all premiums collected starting Jan. 1, 2019 will go into your trust account to fund future premiums.
  • If not, premiums collected before your voluntary plan is effective must be paid to the state.
  • And you can’t recover prior premiums if you later switch to a voluntary plan.

Washington State employers have to make a big decision about Paid Family and Medical Leave before Dec. 31, 2018. Go with the state plan? Or offer your own voluntary plans? Check out five steps you can follow to get ready before premium collections begin Jan. 1.

STEP 1 Decide whether to use the state plan or a voluntary plan.

If you expect to use the state plan for both benefits — Paid Family Leave and Medical Leave — there’s no action to take. If you prefer to offer your own voluntary plan, you may want to choose a carrier to administer your plan.

STEP 2 If you choose voluntary, prepare and submit a plan.

It must comply with the statute and regulations. Standard Insurance Company (The Standard) can help provide a plan if we’re your administrator. To apply, follow the Voluntary Plan Guide on the Washington State website:

  • Answer the questions on the application form.
  • Upload your voluntary plan.
  • Pay the application fee of $250.

The state must approve all voluntary plans. A plan’s effective date will be the first day of the quarter following state approval.

STEP 3 Learn how to calculate employee and employer premium contributions.

For 2019 and 2020, employee and employer contributions combined will equal 0.4 percent of the employee’s wages. Earnings will be capped at the maximum wage level subject to taxation for Social Security ($128,400 in 2018).

Who pays premiums? As the employer, you’ll pay about 37 percent of the total premium. Your employees will pay the remaining 63 percent. Here’s the complete breakdown:

  • One-third of total premium will be for Family Leave. Employees pay this part.
  • Two-thirds of total premium will be for Medical Leave (employee’s own serious health condition). The employer pays 55 percent of this part; employees pay 45 percent.
  • But, you may elect to pay all or part of the employee’s share of the premium.

 

 

STEP 4 Get ready to deduct employee premium contributions starting Jan. 1, 2019.

Employers must start deducting premiums from employees’ paychecks starting Jan. 1, 2019. Contributions are the same whether you’re using the state plan or a voluntary plan. But you may elect to waive employee contributions for your voluntary plan.

  • For a voluntary plan, set up a trust account. You must hold employee premium contributions and any income earned in a specifically identifiable trust account in a financial institution.
  • For a state plan, make payments to Washington state. Employee and employer premiums must be paid to the state fund on the last day of the month following the close of each calendar quarter. For example, by April 30 for premiums collected during January, February and March.
  • Employers with fewer than 50 employees in Washington can elect to not pay the employer part of the premium. However, you’ll forfeit the right to possible small business assistance grants.

STEP 5 Get more details on Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave website: paidleave.wa.gov/employers.

Watch This Space

The Standard went all out to help our customers prepare for New York’s PFL launch in January 2018. And we’re committed to partnering with employers across the country.

To find our latest answers and resources, check back here on Relatively Speaking, our PFL-focused blog. Or subscribe to the RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss any updates.

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