Family Leave Act
On July 5, 2017, Governor Jay Inslee signed a law that will provide paid family leave to eligible workers. Beginning in 2020, eligible workers will be able to take up to 12 weeks off for paid family leave. The paid leave can be used for an employee’s own serious health condition, for the birth or adoption of a child, or for an employee to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Two additional weeks of leave are provided for pregnancy coupled with a serious health condition.
To be eligible for leave under the Family Leave Act (FLA), an employee must be employed at least 12 months with the employer and must have worked 1,250 hours in the 12-month period preceding the requested leave. This eligibility requirement is identical to that of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Unlike the FMLA, Washington’s FLA guarantees that leave is paid, and it also provides additional leave over and above what the FMLA provides. For example, if a worker is on pregnancy disability leave, she will exhaust her FMLA leave after 12 weeks. The FLA provides an additional 12 weeks of leave once her baby is born and she has been released to work.
Starting in 2019, both employers and employees will pay into the system to fund the paid leave. According to the Washington Senate, an employee who makes $50,000 a year would pay $2.42 a week, while his or her employer would pay $1.42 a week. A worker’s benefits are calculated based on a percentage of the employee’s wages and the state’s weekly average wage. Workers who earn less than the state average — currently $1,082 — would receive 90 percent of their income. Benefits will be capped at $1,000 a week.