Employers’ 2019 Update: The New Family Leave Act

Boy with broken arm; Washington family leave act

If you are an employer, you may be confused by what the new Washington State “Family Leave Act” means for your business. The Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Act was signed into law on July 5, 2018 and went into effect on January 1, 2019. Employees cannot apply to receive benefits under the new law until January 1, 2020.

Virtually all Washington State employers must collect and send premiums to the Employment Security Department every quarter. Starting in 2020, employees will apply for Family Leave benefits directly to Employment Security, which will determine whether or not employees are eligible. By contrast, with Washington Paid Sick Leave, employees request paid sick leave directly from their employer.

Employers may choose to offer extra paid-leave benefits to employees for family or medical leave in addition to PFMLA (including vacation, sick or other paid time off).

I’m an Employer, What Should I Do Now?

  1. Review and update any written leave policies, including the process of requesting leave, to ensure they are in compliance with Washington law.
  2. Evaluate your existing paid leave, vacation, and sick leave policies. Given the new paid leave, do changes need to be made to your existing leave policies?
  3. Make an appointment with your bookkeeper or accountant to discuss how and who should be paying the PFMLA premiums for your employees.
  4. Ensure that you have a clear understanding about what rights your employees have with how, where, and when they can work for your company to avoid potential conflict from a miscommunication or obligation.

If you have any concerns or questions about the legal implications of the new employee benefit laws for your business, please call Limitless Law at (360) 685-0145. We’re here to help!

Learn more about the new Washington Family and Medical Leave Act:

Washington State Labor & Industries


Washington Employment Security Department