Be in the Know: New Rules on Leave

Washington requires paid medical leave (PML) and paid family leave (PFL) income replacement benefits for eligible workers who need time off from work for qualifying reasons.

Coverage and cost

Learn more about your state rules and eligibility.

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Covered employers

All private sector and some public sector employers are covered.

Coverage options

Employers may use the state or a private plan. Private plans must be approved by the state.


  • Total PFML cost is 0.8% (adjusts to 0.74% effective 01/01/2024) of an employee's gross wages capped at the annual Social Security Maximum of $160,200 (adjusts to $168,600 effective 01/01/2024).
  • Employee Contribution: 0.5322% of the total 0.8% (adjusts to 0.5286% of the total 0.74% effective 01/01/2024)
  • Employer Contribution: 0.2678% of the total 0.8% (adjusts to 0.2114% of the total 0.74% effective 01/01/2024)
  • The employee maximum PML/FL combined contribution is 72.76% (adjusts to 71.43% effective 01/01/2024) of the total cost. Employers pay 27.24% (adjusts to 28.57% effective 01/01/2024) of the total cost.
  • Employers fund the additional cost of the private plan above the employee maximum contribution limit. Employer may elect to pay all or part of employee contribution.
  • Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of premium.

Employee eligibility

Worked at least 820 hours of employment during the qualifying period 

Leave reasons

Caring for a family member, child bereavement, bonding, and qualified exigency

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Job protection

The law provides job protection for employees who take leave provided they meet certain tenure and hours-worked requirements in the 12 months just before leave:

Plan options Minimum tenure Minimum hours worked
State plan 12 months 1,250
Private plans 9 months 965

Under both state and private plans, employers must maintain health benefits only if they must already be maintained under FMLA. Under the state plan, job protection provisions only apply if the employer has 50+ employees in the state of Washington.


  • PML allows 12-week maximum.
  • PFL 12 weeks (14 weeks for a pregnancy that results in incapacity)
  • Bereavement (limited to 7 calendar days) following the death of a child within 12 months of birth or placement
  • Combined 16 weeks (18 weeks for a pregnancy that results in incapacity)
  • Waiting period of 7 calendar days (excluding child bonding and qualifying exigency)
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Timeline and key dates

  • 2017: The state of Washington passed legislation that allows most employees to receive paid leave to take care of themselves, a sick family member or a new child.
  • Effective January 1, 2020

Need more information?

Visit Washington’s website for additional details.

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How Unum can help

Unum does not offer the Washington PFML insurance plan. Unum does administer an employer’s self-funded Washington PFML plan.

Have questions?

Reach out to our sales team to learn more about Unum's state PFML and absence management solutions.