As of January 1, 2020, employees in Washington state may be eligible to take paid family and medical leave (PFML). We’ve all known this day was coming. We’ve been paying into the system for a year. The Employment Security Department  (ESD) has been making rules to clarify how the system will work and finally, employees can take advantage of the resources available to them. This is great news!

There are still many questions to be answered with only days left before the making claims portion of the Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave   (PFML) goes into effect. Our hope is that everything will run smoothly and the ESD will be communicating with employers and employees every step of the way. However, our team at Resourceful tends to be more pragmatic and prefers to build in contingencies should things not go as smoothly as desired.

“Finally, employees can take advantage of the resources available to them. This is great news!”

As we anticipate employees taking advantage of this program in a few short weeks, here are a few reminders to help ensure you are prepared:

  • PFML is funded through premiums paid by the employer and employees. If you did not start collecting and/or paying premiums on January 1, 2019, start now.
  • To help support the administration of the program, employers are required to submit reports with employee wages, hours worked, and other required information for all employees on a quarterly basis. If you have not been reporting, use this checklist  to help get you started.
  • Employers are required to notify employees of this program. This can be done by posting an informational poster, crafting a policy for your handbook or providing them with an insert for their paystub.
  • Employees are still required to follow your policy regarding how and when to request leave. Review your current handbook policy to ensure that it is up to date and accurately covers these specifics and offer a reminder to your employees.
  • Encourage managers to refer employees with questions regarding leaves to HR or a dedicated company representative familiar with PFML requirements.
  • Be open to talking about PFML with your team. Be transparent about the fact that you won’t have all the answers to their questions at this time but will work with them to figure it out as the ESD provides guidance.

Leave laws can be complex and intricate. They interact with your existing policies, from vacation and PTO to sick and maternity leave. As the Washington state program goes into effect and your employees start taking advantage of the resource available to them, you’ll want to stay current on how the program impacts your business. Our team is here to help you holistically map out your approach to leave that will best support your organization.