Tax On Employers And Employees Funds New Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave Program
Washington state law has new changes going into effect that both employers and employees are watching. Beginning on January 1, 2019, Washington will begin assessing a tax (Washington calls is a "premium") on all employees to contribute to the state-run program. While all employees will have the tax assessment applied to their paychecks, only employers that employ 50 or more employees will also be required to participate in the state program.
Employees will only be eligible to start filing a claim beginning January 1, 2020, since the pool of available funds will be accumulated during 2019. When the program begins, Washington will be only the fifth state in the country to offer paid family and medical leave benefits to workers.
To file a claim with the state-run program, an employee will submit the claim for the days that the employee missed from work for a qualifying event. The qualifying events include: (1) an employee's own serious health condition; (2) bonding after the birth or placement of a child who is under the age of 18; (3) a family member's serious health condition; (4) and certain military assignments, such as leave for short-notice deployments, military events, urgent childcare and related activities, and post-deployment activities.
An eligible employee can claim up to 12 weeks for a serious health condition, and the benefit can extend up to 18 weeks with other qualifying conditions. The Washington law even addresses job reinstatement. An employee is eligible for job reinstatement if the employer employs 50 or more employee, the employee has worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and the employee has worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding the date on which leave will commence.
The good news for employers is that the program is administered by the State of Washington, so the involvement of employers will be fairly minimal. However, employers will be required to make deductions from employee's paychecks and also contribute themselves if they qualify as an employer of 50 or more employees.
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