Human Resources, Payroll, Washington State

Washington’s Paid Family Medical Leave: Voluntary Plans

Hey Compliance Warriors!

Washingtons new paid family medical leave goes into effect January 1st 2019. Here’s information you need to know about it. Read on…

Article via: www.lexology.com

Employers doing business in Washington state are gearing up to start collecting and remitting premium payments to the state under Washington’s new paid family medical leave program starting on January 1, 2019. Many of our employer clients are weighing whether to participate in the state-run program, or whether to opt out and seek approval for a Voluntary Plan.

Washington’s law allows employers to create and run their own paid family medical leave programs instead of participating in the state-run program. Below are ten things every Washington employer should consider in making that important decision:

  1. A Voluntary Plan is an employer-run paid leave program that provides paid medical leave (self-care for an employee’s serious health condition) and/or paid family leave (care for an employee’s family member’s serious health condition, care for a newborn baby or newly adopted or newly placed foster child, and certain military related events);
  2. Employers may contract with a third-party administrator to administer the Voluntary Plan. However, the employer remains responsible for compliance with the law and meeting regulatory requirements.
  3. The Voluntary Plan must meet or exceed the state-run plan benefits including length of leave, amount of benefits and covered reasons for leave;
  4. A Voluntary Plan may cover paid family leave, paid medical leave or both. If the Voluntary Plan only covers one type of leave (family or medical), employees will be covered by the state-run plan for the other type of leave.
  5. A Voluntary Plan must contain the following eligibility requirements:
    • The employee must have worked at least 820 hours in Washington (for any employer), and
    • The employee must have either worked at least 340 hours for the current employer or have been covered by their previous employer’s Voluntary Plan.
  6. Voluntary Plan employers have enhanced reporting requirements that include all information required under the state plan plus weekly benefit and leave duration information for any employee who takes leave under the Voluntary Plan.
  7. Voluntary Plan employers have more strict reinstatement requirements than under the state-run plan. Employees are entitled to reinstatement under a Voluntary Plan if they have worked for the employer for at least nine months and at least 965 hours during the 12 months preceding the first day of leave.
  8. The Employment Security Department (ESD) is accepting Voluntary Plan applications online now. Applicants must submit the completed application, a $250 fee, and a copy of the Voluntary Plan document.
  9. Employers should expect it to take at least 30 days for the Voluntary Plan application to be approved or denied.
  10. Voluntary Plans that are approved take effect on the first day of the following calendar quarter.

The decision whether to apply for a Voluntary Plan should be made ASAP to allow time for ESD to process the application in time for the employer to avoid participating in the state plan starting on January 1, 2019.

For more information:

Until Next Time, Be Audit-Secure!

Lisa Smith


Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Seminars, LLC and Chief Content Developer at BeAuditSecure.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more from her in Audit-Secure Authority at BeAuditSecure.com

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