The Washington legislature passed a handful of changes to the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program, which were signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on March 30, 2022 (SSSB 5649). These key changes are effective June 9, 2022:
Family leave may now be used for bereavement for seven calendar days after the death of a child in childbirth or during the child’s first year after birth or placement.
Paid leave benefits used in the postnatal period will default to medical leave unless the employee chooses to take it as family leave instead. “Postnatal” is defined as the first six weeks after birth. Certification of a serious health condition will not be required to receive PFML benefits during the postnatal period.
The exception to PFML rights for collective bargaining agreements in existence on October 19, 2017, as found in the original law, will expire on December 31, 2023.
A current list of employers with approved voluntary plans must now be published on the Employment Security Department (ESD) website.
The law now provides for actuarial services and legislative performance audits to assess the financial stability and solvency of the PFML program.
ESD will be drafting rules to implement these changes.
Tips: This is a good time to update your Washington PFML policy to include the new bereavement leave as a protected reason for taking PFML. Our Model Policy, Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Policy, has been updated to reflect this change.