Starting on January 1, 2020, Washington employees are now able to apply to the Employment Security Department for paid leave benefits when the employee needs to be out of the workplace for a qualifying reason. Employees may be eligible to receive a portion of their wages (up to $1000 per week) if they need time away for bonding with a new baby in the home, to care for the serious health condition of a family member, to care for the employee’s own serious health condition, or to deal with a qualifying military exigency need. Employees will be required to provide their employer with written notice of their need to take leave and will apply for benefits through the Employment Security Department.
Employers may choose to allow their employees to supplement any state-provided benefits with employer-provided benefits, such as PTO, vacation, or sick leave. This “topping off” may bring the employee up to 100% of their wages, or even over 100% if the employer allows the employee to take full advantage of the employer-provided benefit. Some employees may also be entitled to continued health insurance benefits and have job restoration rights if the employee works for an employer that has 50 or more employees (not just employees located in Washington), the employee has worked for the employer for 12 months and has worked 1250 hours in the 12 months preceding the need for leave.