On March 30, 2022, Washington State (WA) passed another amendment to its Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program. WA PFML provides eligible individuals with paid leave to take care of themselves or a family member, bond with a new child, or spend time with a family member preparing for military service overseas.
Among other items, the recent amendment expands benefits for post-natal care, bereavement, and employees subject to a union contract. These changes taken effect on June 9, 2022.
The most significant changes are summarized as follows:
- Bereavement Leave: Eligible residents can now take WA PFML during the 7 calendar days following the death of a qualifying family member. A qualifying family member is an individual for whom the employee would have qualified for medical leave for the birth of their child or for family leave to bond with their child after birth or placement for adoption. For more on eligibility for WA PFML, see the official website.
- Post-Natal Leave: For the 6 weeks after birth (“post-natal” period), any individual eligible for WA PFML benefits for an incapacity due to pregnancy or for pre-natal care is presumed to be on medical leave, unless the employee chooses to use family leave during that period. Employees do not need to obtain a certification of a serious health condition to qualify for paid leave benefits during the post-natal period.
- Expiration for Union Employee Exception: Currently, there is a provision in the WA PFML program that makes certain employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that was in effect on October 19, 2017 ineligible for PFMLA benefits until the CBA is re-opened or re-negotiated. The recent amendment provides a December 31, 2023 expiration date to the CBA provision.
Employers with more than 50 employees in WA should be aware of these eligibility changes since WA PFML generally provides job protection for employees who have worked at least 1 year and for 1,250 hours in the year before taking the leave. See here for exceptions to the WA PFML job protection provisions.
Please note that an employee may also be entitled to job protection under other local, state, and federal laws, such as federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
For more on WA PFML, see our prior blog.
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