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Washington Paid and Medical Leave (“Program”) is set to take effect January 1, 2020. The Washington State Employment Security Department (WA ESD), the agency responsible for administering the Program, is currently drafting rules and regulations. Recently, WA ESD released updates on phase four of its rulemaking and changed the deadline for first quarter reporting. In addition, Washington passed House Bill 1399, which makes several technical corrections to the Program.

Reporting

WA ESD changed the 2019 reporting deadline for the first and second quarter to August 31st. This changes the deadline for the first quarter report, which was previously April 30th. Note that this extension will not affect the availability of benefits, which eligible employees can begin applying for in January 2020.

What reporting do employers need to submit?

Employers are responsible for reporting to WA ESD on a quarterly basis. Employers report on the total premiums collected (if any) from employees and wages and hours worked. Quarterly reporting is due April 30, July 31, October 31, and January 31 of each year.

What premiums do employers need to collect?

The Program is funded by employees and employers (in some instances). Payroll deductions began on January 1, 2019. Employers are responsible for reporting and remitting all premiums collected for the Program to WA ESD. For more information about payroll deductions reporting, read our article, “Washington State Paid Family Leave Premiums to Begin January 1, 2019.”

How can employers submit their reporting?

Employers can submit their reporting through their Paid Family and Medical Leave customer account through SecureAccessWashington (SAW). WA ESD is planning to release reporting instructions to employers. For more on reporting, see the WA ESD website and reporting timeline frequently asked questions. Employers can also sign up for an online webinar.

Rulemaking

On March 4, 2019, Washington filed phase four of the formal proposed rules, which covers the continuation of benefits and fraud. After a period for public comment on the proposed rules, the rules are set to take effect on July 8, 2019. Rulemaking on phases one through three have been finalized and have already taken effect.

Portions of the phase four proposed rules include:

  • Employers may not require employees to take paid vacation leave, paid sick leave, or other forms of paid time off provided by the employer before, in place of, or concurrently with paid family or medical leave benefits. See WAC 192-610-075.
  • Employees can take a minimum of 8 hours for paid family and medical leave. See WAC 192-620-005.
  • Which wages are reportable to the department for assessing premiums. See WAC 192-510-025.
  • How employees can request benefits through ESD and the information that employees must provide to ESD. See WAC 192-620-010 and 192-620-020.
  • What constitutes fraud and the penalties associated with fraud. See WAC 192-500-120, 192-500-005, 192-800-010, 192-800-015.
  • The procedure for determining whether an employee is eligible to receive benefits. See WAC 192-60-005, 192-630-010, 192-630-015.

To view all phase four proposed regulations, please click here.

House Bill 1399

On April 3, 2018, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1399 into law, which makes technical corrections to the Program.

House Bill 1399 makes the following additions and changes to the Program:

  • Allows employers the option to supplement an employee’s benefits with other paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave. The law does not require an employee to receive or an employer to provide supplemental benefit payments. Under the original law, employers were prohibited from supplementing the pay of employees. See Section 8.
  • Additional provisions and clarifications on the requirements and administration of employer-run voluntary plans. Employees covered under an employer-run voluntary plan have the right to appeal an adverse decision. See Section 56-63.
  • Additional provisions on the privacy and disclosure of information and records that are submitted pursuant to the administration of the Program. See Section 70-83.

To review all of the additions and changes, see House Bill 1399.

Additional Resources:

The information and materials on this blog are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal or tax advice. Information provided in this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments and may vary by jurisdiction. The content on this blog is for general informational purposes only and does not apply to any particular facts or circumstances. The use of this blog does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship, nor should any such relationship be implied, and the contents do not constitute legal or tax advice. If you require legal or tax advice, please consult with a licensed attorney or tax professional in your jurisdiction. The contributing authors expressly disclaim all liability to any persons or entities with respect to any action or inaction based on the contents of this blog.

Emerald Law– Emerald is a Client Compliance Consultant for Sequoia, where she works with our clients to optimize and streamline benefits compliance. In her free time, Emerald enjoys stand-up comedy, live music and writing non-fiction.