Employers with 50 or fewer employees will be exempt from paying the employer share of the premium. And businesses that offer their employees a comparable family and medical leave plan will be allowed to opt out of the state-run program.
Employers can opt out of the state-run program if they have a comparable plan and pay a $250 fee to the Employment Security Department. Employers may request a waiver of the premium requirement for employees who are:
The benefit amount varies due to a calculation based on the employee’s rate of pay and the state’s average weekly rate (currently $1,082 or $56,264 annually). Employees who earn less than the state’s average weekly rate will receive the equivalent of 90 percent of the employee’s weekly wage.
Employees who earn more than the state’s average weekly rate will receive a benefit calculated as 90 percent of the employee’s weekly wage, up to 50 percent of the state’s average weekly rate; plus 50 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage that is greater than the 50 percent of the state’s average weekly rate, up to a maximum $1,000 per week for 2020.
To be eligible, an employee must have worked 820 hours (approximately 4.5 months) during the qualifying period (first four of the last five calendar quarters). For the most part, only employees actually working in Washington will be eligible for this benefit.
Who Is Covered?
Washington employers are subject to the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.
Like the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Washington’s Family Leave Act (FLA) provides up to 12 weeks of protected leave in a 12-month period for eligible employees. To be eligible, 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. In most cases, the FLA will run concurrently with the FMLA and the enforcement rights are under the federal law. Workers may enforce their rights under the FLA in the following three circumstances:
Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if:
Reasons for Leave
FMLA leave is available if an employee needs time off to:
What it means for workers
The bill offers eligible workers 12 weeks of either leave beginning in 2020, or 16 weeks for a combination of both. An additional two weeks may be used if there is a serious health condition with a pregnancy.
Enforcement of the FMLA provisions adopted in the FLA is under the federal act and administered by the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD), while enforcement of the extended benefits (for domestic partner, pregnancy, and other qualifying exigencies) of the FLA is by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).
How is “family member” defined under this law?
Notice/Poster Display Requirement
The FMLA requires that covered employers display and keep displayed the text of the WHD’s Family and Leave Act Notice, which describes the major provisions of the act. Similarly, the FLA requires that employers “post and keep posted” a notice summarizing the provisions of the FLA (RCW 49.78.340).
To read specifics about eligibility, read page 14 of the bill here.
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