The Paid Family and Medical Leave Program is a mandatory statewide insurance program that is funded through payroll taxes. This Washington State leave was enacted on January 1, 2020 and provides some of the most generous paid family leave benefits in the country. The program is administered by the Employment Security Department (ESD). Although this is not a program administered by EWU, this leave may interact with other protected leave laws that EWU does administer such as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Washington Family Care Act, etc.
Does PFML replace FMLA?
No. PFML and FMLA are separate entitlements and should be treated differently. PFML is a statewide insurance program that provides wage replacement while FMLA is a federal entitlement providing job and benefit protections. FMLA is unpaid, although employees may choose to use their paid leave to substitute for the unpaid absence. The use of FMLA does not diminish the benefit available in PFML. Employers cannot interfere with, restrain, or deny an employee’s use of PFML.
Employees can receive PFML benefits if they meet eligibility criteria and experience a qualifying event.
- Have performed work for at least 820 hours in the state of Washington during the “qualifying period” which is either:
- The first four of the last five completed calendar quarters or
- The last four calendar quarters immediately preceding the application for leave.
Qualifying events for PFML
Leave to bond with the employee’s child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth, or the first 12 months after the placement of a child under the age of 18 with the employee.
- Leave to participate in providing care, including physical or psychological care, for a family member due to the family member’s serious health condition; or
- Leave because of qualifying military exigency as permitted under FMLA.
Medical leave is any leave taken by an employee from work due to the employee’s own serious health condition which means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, including any period of incapacity; or continuing treatment by a health care provider for:
- Incapacity for illness or injury for 3 or more consecutive days
- Incapacity due to pregnancy, or for prenatal care;
- Incapacity due to a chronic serious health condition or treatment for condition e.g., radiation, chemotherapy or dialysis
- Treatment for substance abuse
The health care provider will determine whether the illness or injury meets the definition of a serious health condition.
PFML may be used to care for:
- Spouse and registered domestic partners
- Children (biological, adopted, foster or stepchild)
- Parents and legal guardians (or spouse’s parents)
- Grandparents (or spouse’s grandparents)
- Son-in-law and daughter-in-law
- Caring for someone who has an expectation to rely on you for care-whether you live together or not.
The weekly PFML benefit amount is a partial wage replacement. The benefit is calculated by ESD and is up to 90% of weekly wages, with a minimum of $100 per week and with a maximum of $1,206 per week. ESD provides a Benefit Calculator on their website to estimate the amount an employee may receive.
Minimum Claim Duration
The minimum claim duration payment is for eight (8) consecutive hours of leave.
Maximum Claim Duration
Qualified Washington employees are eligible for:
- Up to 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave.
- Up to 16 weeks of leave when family and medical leave are used in combination (e.g., birth parent pregnancy and parental leave).
- An additional two (2) weeks of leave is available as a result of pregnancy complications.
Notice for requesting leave
- Employees are required to provide 30 days’ written notice to their supervisor and Human Resources if leave is foreseeable or provide notice as soon as practicable if leave is unplanned. Employees will make reasonable efforts to schedule treatments so they do not unduly disrupt the operations of EWU.
- Employees shall complete the EWU Leave of Absence Request Form. EWU LOA Request Form
- The notice must contain the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. For intermittent leaves, the notice must also include the anticipated frequency of the leave.
- Filling a PFML claim is a separate process from applying for leave of absence from EWU. When employees file a PFML claim with the Employment Security Department (ESD), the employee must also request a leave of absence with EWU or already be on an approved leave.
What are Supplemental Benefits under PFML?
EWU has designated certain paid time off benefits as supplemental benefits. EWU employees can receive both paid time off from EWU (via the supplemental benefit timesheet codes) and the full PFML benefit from ESD. It is the employee’s choice. Employees who designate their leave as supplemental will receive full vacation leave pay, sick leave pay, personal holiday pay, etc. in addition to any PFML wage replacement benefit received. Employees must have sufficient time in their leave banks to use these supplemental benefits. The following are supplemental benefits at EWU:
- Sick Time
- Vacation Time
- Personal Holiday
- Personal Leave
- Compensatory (Comp.) Time
- Sick and Short-Term Disability (Faculty)
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